Washing Hands Off If Centre can’t stop honour killings, who will?

THE TRIBUNE , CHANDIGARH WRITES A STINGING EDITORIAL ON THE LACKASIDAL APPROACH OF THE CENTRAL GOVERNMENT AND THE STATE GOVERNMENTS ON THE ISSUE OF HONOUR KILLINGS. THIS PETAINS TO THE PUBLIC INTERST LITIGATION BEING HEARD BY THE SUPREME COURT ON SHAKTI VAHINI PETITION.

THE TRIBUNE EDITORIAL

Passing the buck is a favourite hobby of sarkari babus but one wishes they do not indulge in such a pastime when an issue as vital as honour killings is under consideration. The Centre has smugly told the Supreme Court in its affidavit that police and public order are state subjects under the Constitution and it is the state’s responsibility to deal with the offences in question. That is a fact known even to school students. Can the Centre evade responsibility by taking this plea is the moot point. How serious the states are in curbing the menace can be gauged from the fact that Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, where honour crimes are the most prevalent, have not even replied to the notice sent to them by the Supreme Court full one year ago.

However, the disingenuous argument of the Centre does not stop at that either. The affidavit goes on to say that the Centre does not interfere in the personal laws of any community unless the demand comes from within the community. One wonders how the personal law comes into the picture. Nobody has the right to kill or harass someone just because he or she has married in own gotra (clan). A crime is a crime. Even if by some stretch of imagination, what happens within a clan is passed off as a “personal matter”, the fact remains that only 3 per cent of the documented cases of honour crimes involve couples married in their gotra. Most of the others relate to couples in inter-caste marriages.

The affidavit grandly says that the freedom of choice with respect to marriage has been specifically recognised and protected under our legal framework and under every personal law women have the same right to enter into a marriage with free and full consent. Ironically, this right has rarely been endowed on the young couples who dare to marry against the wishes of their families or even village elders. They are hounded, tortured and killed. Laws are very much there. Will someone kindly care to enforce them?

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