Gotra row: A wedding knot valid?

Panchayats of two villages in Haryana’s Sonepat district annulled a marriage, barely 24 hours after it was solemnised, on the ground that the bride and groom were from gotras (lineage) that shared “brotherhood”.

Though the families of Tarun Mehra and Pinky Sabharwal (names changed) — both in their 20s and belonging to Scheduled Castes — had consented to their arranged marriage on January 3, they were forced to call it off the next day due to pressure from the Joli and Lath village panchayats.

Problems arose after elders of the Sabharwal gotra learnt during the wedding ceremony that the groom belonged to Mehra gotra, which had “brotherhood” with their gotra.

Later, panchayat members slammed both the families for allowing the marriage and not upholding social customs. 

Elders of both villages met in Joli on January 4 for a panchayat and passed the diktat terminating the marital relationship.

Later, the bride’s family took away the gifts presented to the groom’s family.

“We had spent a large amount on the marriage and wanted it to continue, but had to bow to the wishes of the panchayat fearing social repercussions,” the groom’s father said on Wednesday.

Tarun said, “I did not want to accept the order, but this is how disputes are settled here.”

Jagbir Sabharwal, sarpanch of Lath village, who was among the panchayat members who issued the diktat, said neither the bride nor the groom was forced to accept the annulment. “The decision was taken only after both families gave their consent.”

Sabharwal, however, admitted that annulling a marriage in this manner was illegal. Nevertheless, it did not prevent him from justifying it by saying, “Social customs must be obeyed at all costs.”


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