Two adults are free to get married and "no third party", be it parents or society or khap panchayats, have any right to harass or cause harm to them, said Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, against honour killings on Monday, reported The Hindu.

"When two people get into wedlock, no one should interfere. Neither parents, society, khap or panchayat... no one at all," said Mr. Misra, leading a three-judge Bench, that upheld the fundamental right of two people who wish to get married to each other and live peacefully.

When activist Madhu Kishwar informed the Supreme Court about the recent murder of Ankit Saxena, a young man who was allegedly murdered by his lover's parents, Mr. Misra said "we are not into that. That is not before us.

Ms. Kishwar said "honour killing" is "too soft a word for such crimes against young people".

"These should be called hate crimes," she submitted.

But the Chief Justice went on to repeatedly emphasise that no one has any individual, group or collective right to harass a couple.

Mr. Misra said it is up to the courts to decide legally whether a marriage is null and void or children are legitimate or illegitimate, or in the case of a property dispute, "no other person or group" have the right to intervene.

A senior counsel, who represented the khap panchayat, objected to how the panchayats are portrayed as inciters of honour killings.

The counsel said such panchayats are age-old traditions and they do now encourage inter-caste marriages.

He argued that the objection of khaps about marriages between people from the same gotra is upheld in Section 5 of the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955. The section said the "sapinda should be removed by five degrees from the father's side and by three degrees from the mother's side".

He said only three percent of honour killings are linked to gotra, while the remaining 97% are due to religion and other reasons.

Marriage within the same gotra leads to genetically deformed development in children, the counsel argued.

"We ignore castes. We encourage inter-caste marriages. In Haryana, because of the skewed gender ratio, we get women from other States," the counsel said.

But the Chief Justice said the court is not concerned about khap panchayats.

"We are not writing an essay here on traditions, lineages, etc. We are only concerned with the freedom of adults to marry and live together without facing harassment," the Chief Justice retorted.

The counsel for khaps agreed that "custom is not above human lives".

The court is hearing a petition filed by Shakti Vahini, an NGO, to make honour killing a specific crime.

The apex court has asked the government to suggest guidelines to curb honour killings. Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand has sought more time.