Halt honour killings, rules SC

THE TRIBUNE / New Delhi, April 19

The Supreme Court today directed all the state governments to immediately suspend the District Magistrates/Collectors and SSPs/SPs if they failed to apprehend those responsible for honour killings or prevent such incidents despite having advance knowledge.

Khap panchayats “often decree or encourage honour killings or other atrocities in an institutionalised way on boys and girls of different castes and religion, who wish to get married or have been married, or interfere with the personal lives of people.

“We are of the opinion that this is wholly illegal and has to be ruthlessly stamped out,” a Bench comprising Justices Markandey Katju and Gyan Sudha Misra held in a verdict.

Observing that “there is nothing honourable in honour killings or other atrocities,” the Bench said such crimes “committed by brutal, feudal minded persons deserve harsh punishment. Only in this way can we stamp out such acts of barbarism and feudal mentality. Moreover, these acts take the law into their own hands, and amount to kangaroo courts, which are wholly illegal.”

The officials who failed to prevent such incidents or apprehend the culprits should also be chargesheeted and proceeded against departmentally “as in our opinion they will be deemed to be directly or indirectly accountable in this connection,” the apex court ruled.

“Copy of this judgment shall be sent to all Chief Secretaries, Home Secretaries and Directors General of Police in all states and Union Territories with the direction that it should be circulated to all officers up to the level of District Magistrates and SSPs/SPs for strict compliance. Copy will also be sent to the Registrars of all high courts who will circulate it to all Hon’ble Judges of the court,” the Bench said.

The SC issued the directions while dismissing an appeal by those convicted for a similar crime in Tamil Nadu. The appellants “have behaved like uncivilised savages, and hence deserve no mercy,” the Bench noted.

Pointing out that several such instances were being reported, the SC said “the nation is passing through a crucial transitional period in our history, and this court cannot remain silent in matters of great public concern, such as the present one.”

“The caste system is a curse on the nation and the sooner it is destroyed the better. In fact, it is dividing the nation at a time when we have to be united to face the challenges before the nation unitedly. Hence, inter-caste marriages are in fact in the national interest as they will result in destroying the caste system,” the Bench said.



On a day when a youth in Haryana’s Bhiwani district beat two women to death in full public view, it turns out that Haryana along with Uttar Pradesh is the only state among nine others that were put on notice last year by the Supreme Court in a matter involving frequent honour killings at the behest of khap panchayats.

On June 26 last year, the apex court, while hearing a civil writ petition, issued notices to nine state governments where khap panchayat verdicts in the so-called cases involving family’s honour, were rampant. The states were directed to submit detailed affidavits stating the steps they had taken or planned to take to tame the community panchayats and punish the perpetrators of honour crimes.

While Rajasthan was the first to file its reply on October 18 last, and Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chandigarh and Delhi followed suit, Haryana and UP governments – which together account for the maximum burden of honour crimes in India – continue to sit pretty and remain unresponsive to the issue, exhibiting their blatant prejudice against the girl child, which was recently reflected powerfully in the provisional Census data.

The petition, filed by Shakti Vahini, which works against khap panchayats, had sought directions to the states to prevent the khap panchayats from unleashing terror on couples marrying on will. It is still pending in the Supreme Court.

But even in one full year, Haryana and UP failed to come up with their affidavits. A study earlier commissioned on the issue by the National Commission for Women concluded that in 84 per cent of honour crimes, the girls’ families had been found to be the perpetrators. Haryana, western UP and Punjab led the honour crime graph, according to the said study done last year.


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