Divorce between estranged couple approved by khap panchayats (caste council) will have no legal sanctity, the Supreme Court has ruled.
A Bench of Justices P Sathasivam and BS Chauhan upeld an Allahabad High Court judgement that had quashed a Varanasi Family Court's ruling that divorce between Mahendra Nath Yadav and Sheela Devi had become effective since it had been approved by the khap panchayat.
"The High Court has rightly held that dissolution of marriage through panchayat as per custom prevailing in that area and in that community cannot be a ground for granting divorce under Section 13 (desertion or cruelty) of the Act, 1955.
"We fully agree with the said decision for the reason that in case the appellant wanted a decree on the basis of customary dissolution of marriage through panchayat held on 7th June, 1997, he would not have filed a petition under Section 13 of the Act, 1955. Filing this petition itself means that none of the parties was of the view that the divorce granted by the panchayat was legal. In view of the above, we do not see any reason to interfere with the well-reasoned judgment of the High Court," the apex court said in its order.
The apex court passed the order while dismissing the appeal of Yadav, an armyman challenging the High Court's decision to quash the decree of divorce granted by the family court in September 2000, on the basis of a panchayat decision.
The estranged wife Sheela Devi was however, not willing for divorce.