J. Venkatesan IN THE HINDU
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to the Centre and eight States for a direction to explain the steps taken to prevent honour killings at the national level and in the respective States.
A vacation Bench comprising Justice R.M. Lodha and Justice A.K. Patnaik, after hearing counsel Ravi Kant, issued notice to Haryana, Punjab, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh asking them to respond to the plea of the petitioner, Shakti Vahini, to submit a National/State Plan of Action to combat honour crimes.
The petition also sought a direction to the State governments to launch active prosecutions in each case of honour killings and to investigate the role of the law enforcement agencies. It alleged that the State governments had failed to take action to curb such feudal tendencies of killing couples and individuals for the sake of honour.
The petition said that in the last one year, Shakti Vahini, an NGO, had been studying the cases on honour killings. It said the number of cases had been on the rise in recent times, and when the State governments concerned remained a mute spectator, there was a lot of fear among couples who were married and those intending to get married that they might face the wrath of feudal forces.
The petition noted that the pressure was often so intense that some couples resorted to suicide. Cases had come to light where couples were being killed, publicly humiliated, and being declared as brothers and sisters, with some having to face social ostracisation.
“The law enforcement agencies are caught in the midst of a lack of political will to act against such feudal forces as these forces also represent vote banks,” the petition said, adding that the Union of India, “as a member to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, has an obligation to protect the lives, rights and liberty of individuals and protect them from such heinous crimes found a family.”
“With some politicians supporting the Khap demands, the fear of the Khaps has increased more among the general population,” it said.
The petition pointed out that the Supreme Court, in the absence of laws on sexual harassment in work places, laid down guidelines to combat this menace. The present situation of terror of honour killings had resulted in a situation that the Court laid down similar guidelines for law enforcement agencies to combat such crimes.