We are living in the era of 21st century but still trying to cope up with a barbaric crime. Honour killing is an act of violence which leads to murder done in the name of honour of the family. Generally this killing is done by the family members itself and is mostly against women. This crime is done in order to protect the prestige of a family, or done in outrage and anger, or done in order to set an example for others’ or because of many other motives. Among several reasons, the reasons which are always in limelight are inter-caste marriage, pre-marriage pregnancy, inappropriate dressing, live-in relationship, homosexuality, etc. It is often argued that honour killing is prominent in rural and less literacy rate areas but if we analyze the situation in India, we can see that apart from Punjab, Haryana, UP, and Bihar even in Delhi and southern states like Kerala and Tamil Nadu this practice is prominent.
Our country is very selective in its development, at international level we are a nuclear power but if we dig deep, our country has its dark secrets. This crime and its criminals are mostly supported by the small political parties in the village area and the practice of Khap Panchayat strengthens that support.
The Khap Panchayat is practiced in the regions of Punjab and Haryana and are not formulated or appointed by any government/official authority but are powerful and that’s why they exerts their significance on the community. According to them marrying in the same village constitute incest, as girl and boy of same village are siblings, hence the marriage is not validated. They murder the couple and hang their body in the village to set an example of others.
In 2000, the United Nations presented a data which shows that every year more than 5000 women were victims of honour killing, but the activists and legal researchers argues that the number is far more. The main problem is, these killings were generally not reported by the families and if reported then as suicides or accident.
There are several legal provisions in this regard; the first is under section 300 of the Indian Penal Code which criminalizes murder. Honour killing can be put under this as honour killing is pre-planned and well executed with the help of family, friends and society. And thus this act falls under the Section 300 of the Code. Thus Honour killing can be defined as Murder with the purpose of saving the honour of the family. But the offence of murder contains certain exception, and one of these exceptions is sudden provocation, which is perfectly used to get moderate punishment in Honour Killing cases.
Honour Killing also violates different fundamental rights given to the citizens by virtue of the Constitution of India, like right to equality, right to life etc. The Indian Majority Act, 1857 provides that every citizens of this country when attains the age of 18 years, or age of 21 years (in case of appointed guardians) shall have right to make his or her own decisions. And when the Khap forcefully separates those couples it is directly against the provisions of this act.
Also the issue of not reporting the crime truthfully attracts the provisions of Indian Evidence Act that provides punishment for concealment of facts before or at or after the commission of an offence. There are some other legislation like Protection of Women form Domestic Violence Act, 2005, The SC and ST Act, 1989 which can be used to uproot this heinous crime from the society.
Sometimes it is also been argued that Honour Killing should be treated as homicide and not murder. But in criminal realm we see the impact of the crime on the society and homicides may impact the society at less but Honour Killing is pre-planned and brutally executed, thus its impact on the society is far more, especially on younger generations. Thus an easy defence should not be provided in the case of honour killing as it is very heinous and that too committed by one’s own family members.
The Judiciary has also acted in a positive way in this matter and held several times that killing someone in the name of honour is against the Constitution and anyone who violates the mandates of Constitution should be punished accordingly. In March 2010, the Supreme Court delivered a landmark Judgment and rendered life imprisonment to all the accused and head of Khap who ordered to kill the couple. This case was the first case in which Honour Killing was punished.
In the case of State of UP v. Krishna Master and Anr., the Supreme awarded life imprisonment to the accused persons’ of honour killing and also slammed the high court for acquitting the accused persons’ by rejecting the testimonies of child and other witnesses.
In the case of Lata Singh v State of UP and Anr, the Supreme Court concerned about the harassment imposed on couples of inter-caste marriage. The Court thus held that when a boy/girl becomes major they can marry whom they likes and if the parents doesn’t allow then they can only cutoff their social connections with their sons/daughters. Court further said any threats or harassment in this regard is wholly illegal and should be severely punished.
Thus from the above we can say that the legislature and the judiciary has done their work up to a very good extent. The practice of Khap Panchayats should be abolished with an immediate effect. A deterrent amount of punishment should be attached with this heinous crime, so that people may resist from committing it.
In order to stop such crimes it is important to spread awareness among people and impart proper education. It is the time to develop India in a true manner. To aware its citizens about their rights as well as liabilities, and to make them understand that taking a life in not right in anyway.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.
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