India Bihar court hears family caste row

Sidh Nath Sharma Sidh Nath Sharma says his son had tarnished his family's reputation

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A court in India has begun hearing a case involving a man who has filed a defamation case against his son for marrying a woman of a lower caste.

Sidh Nath Sharma, a lawyer in northern Bihar state, is suing Sushant Jasu for 10 million rupees ($162,650; £99,260).

He has asked his son not to use his surname, which can be a caste marker.

Caste is deeply rooted in Indian society and those marrying outside their caste are often ostracised by their family and the wider community.

Mr Sharma filed the case earlier this month against Mr Jasu, who works as a tax worker, for marrying a woman, a bank officer.

The court in the town of Danapur heard Mr Sharma's arguments over the weekend. The next hearing was set for Saturday, 25 January.

Mr Sharma told the court that his son had not "taken the proper decision" in falling in love with the woman he married.

"When a person doesn't have proper sleep he becomes restless and cannot take proper decision. Likewise my son after falling in love had become restless and couldn't take proper decision," he told Judge Tribuvan Nath.

Defence lawyers were not present during the hearing and Mr Jasu has refused to comment on the case.

"It is a family matter and I will not talk about it," he told the BBC.

The couple got married last November and are living in the western state of Gujarat.

Earlier, Mr Sharma told the BBC: "By marrying a girl out of our own caste my son has not only tarnished my reputation but also demolished nearly 400 years of my family tradition.

"Now he must compensate me for his misdeed… he should not even use my name as his father."

Mr Sharma said he had been hurt by his son's behaviour.

"They say love is blind but love does not permit somebody to destroy and extinguish the previous love which he held with other members of his family."

Mr Sharma's wife, three sisters and other family members attended the marriage - Mr Sharma said they had accepted the union "under emotional pressure".

He said his son should divorce his wife "with her consent" and "agree to a marriage with a woman from our own caste".

Political scientist Shreekant said caste was an important social factor in a feudal society like Bihar.

Interestingly, the Bihar government encourages inter-caste marriage and pays an incentive of 50,000 rupees ($813; £496) to women who marry outside their caste.

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