Young girl eloped to marry the boy she loved. She was shot dead by her father and her body was thrown into the river. In fact, there are lot of such cases we come across every year. These crimes happen just to maintain the honour of the family and it is so called as “Honour Killing” were there is no HONOUR in such KILLING.
Honour killing is the murder of one family member by another due to the shameful act performed by the victim, who have brought dishonour to the family or community. In order to maintain and restore the honour or prestige of the family, they sacrifice their own family member’s life. A very dirty practice of taking one’s life shows people’s thinking and how they are blind folded by the concept of caste, religion and social status.
Though we talk about women treated equally to men, but it’s not the case with honour killing. The main targets are women and girls, targeted by the individuals within her family or by the man’s family due to reasons like the dress code not acceptable by the family, or disapproving to get into arrange marriage, or willing to marry by own choice, or engaging in sexual activities, or having extra-marital and pre-marital relationship, or seeking divorce from husband (separating from spouse) or committing adultery etc… The most terrible thing is even the rape victims face honour killing. When a woman is raped, the entire village or community is seen to be dishonoured. Father kills his own daughter and is said to have done out of love in order to save the girl from humiliation or criticism from the society as well as to bring back their honour.
In many countries the data of honour killing is not maintained properly because many such cases go unrecognized, proved to be accidents or suicides by the family members. As per the data estimated, around 5,000 women are killed annually. Today honour killing are associated with countries in Middle East and North Africa. This horrific practice still occurs in countries like India, Europe, Latin America, etc… The honour killing varies from state to state and from country to country. India is one of the highest rated countries with regard to this heinous crime.
HONOUR KILLING IN INDIA
India being a patriarchal society, the activities of women are closely watched and this killing is directed mostly against women. She has to maintain her moral behaviour and virginity. This is the main concern of the family members. If she brings dishonour or disgrace to the family then she is brutally murdered. Though India talks about democracy, secularism, fundamental rights etc…even in 21st century, the honour killing is still spreading rapidly and have become a very common practice in India. This horrific practice is seen mostly in northern states like Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar etc… due to the system of Khap Panchayat (caste panchayat). Khap Panchayat is a social political Group that consists of upper caste and elderly men from Jat Community, which is traditionally agriculture based community.
According to Khap Panchayat, marriage between people of a same village is considered incest as they are siblings and hence their marriage is considered to be invalid. According to this, a boy and a girl belonging to the same gotra are considered as brother and sister. So, in order to bring back the honour of the family, the Panchayat members orders for the killing of the couple. Methods of killing include stoning, stabbing, burning, hanging, throat slashing, acid attacks, shooting, etc… In fact, in many cases the murder is done in the public to warn the other individuals of the community not to perform the same task otherwise they would face the similar consequences.
Manoj-Babli case was one of the Landmark Judgements on honour killing given by the court. In this case Manoj and Babli from kararo village were Brutally murdered by Babli’s relatives on the orders from the Khap Panchayat for marrying in the same got11ra. The Karnal district court awarded death sentence to five members of Babli’s family for killing the couple. This was the first case which awarded death penalty to the accused of the honour killing.
REASON FOR HONOUR KILLING:
The most obvious reason for honour killing to still remain or continue in India is because of the caste system that exists and mainly due to the never changing minds of the rural people. The main reason for these people to commit a crime, is their belief that the member had brought dishonour to the family by their behaviour. Behaviour includes the dress code unacceptable by family, having extra marital relation, rejecting arrange marriages and willing to marry by their choice, getting involved in sexual activities etc…and all these would bring bad name to the family. So, to get back their prestige or status in the society they follow such practices.
Role played by LAW:
Till now there is no precise law to deal with honour killing and these murders comes under homicide or manslaughter. Sometimes honour killing are done by a mob by large number of people so that it becomes difficult to find out the culprit and there would be no evidence to prove whether the person is guilty or not and this would ultimately result in closing of the case. This is how many cases haven’t come to public notice and is increasing in number.
In case of Ved Pal and Sonia, the couple eloped and got married in a court. Since they belonged to same gotra they were considered has brother and sister. So, this marriage was invalid and the members of the Khap panchayat ordered to kill the couple. The couple runaway and after few days Sonia’s parents requested to send their daughter for few days to home but she was never allowed to meet Ved Pal after that. So, Ved Pal seeked help from court authorities and he along with police protection went to Sonia’s house but she was missing. In the meantime, the mob of hundred member attacked Ved Pal and he ultimately died. The court order, law or any police protection didn’t help Ved Pal.
According to the Indian Constitution, the right is vested in each and every citizen of our country irrespective of their caste, religion, race, gender etc… The Preamble also talks about Secularism where people have the right to adopt any religion and all the religions to get equal respect, protection and support from the state without any discrimination.
Article 14 talks about Equality before Law and Article 15 about Equal rights before Law which means every citizen should be treated equally before Law irrespective of caste, creed, sex, religion etc… But this honour killing is a gender violation were females are targeted more than male.
Article 19 and Article 21 talks about Right to Freedom and Right to life respectively. The Right of a person to choose his/her life partner and the right to live is also violated by taking away one’s life.
Article 39 that ensures Justice to all has also been violated by this crime.
UNDER INDIAN PENAL CODE, 1862
Section 299 and 301 – It deals with Culpable Homicide and murder. The honour killing amounts to Culpable Homicide and murder due to presence of Mens Rea and Actus Reus. The perpetrators (Khap Panchayat and family members) can be punished as per section 302 IPC. The punishment for murder is life imprisonment or death penalty and fine and in case of culpable homicide without causing any murder would result in life imprisonment or imprisonment for 10 years along with fine.
Section 307 and 308 – It Punishes attempt to murder and Culpable Homicide respectively. In case of murder the imprisonment is for 10 years with fine and for Culpable Homicide its upto 3 years or fine or both.
Section 107 to 116 – It Punishes the person for encouraging of offences or illegal practice including murder and culpable homicide.
Section 120(A), (B) – It Punishes the person who is part of the criminal conspiracy (a plan, scheme or plot).
Section 34 and 35 – It Punishes the criminal acts done by several people in furthering(encouraging) of common intention.
Prevention of Crimes in name of Honour and Tradition Bill, 2010 – It is the response of government against the practice of honour killing in order to prevent or take step against such crimes since lots and lots people mainly women in large number are affected. Supreme court pronounced that it is illegal for the family member or Khap Panchayat to interfere in the marriage decisions taken by the individual Girl or Boy.
According to this bill, killing of a person who is exercising the right to choose shall be punishable under IPC. Also harassing women or men or encouraging to harass or kill the family member shall also be punishable. Significance of the bill is that it re-affirms the person’s fundamental right over their right to life, personal relation, freedom of speech and expression etc… and mainly it promotes inter-caste marriages and enable women equal rights and opportunities as that of man in socio-economic development. It enforces “Rule of Law” stating that no one is above Law.
Special Marriage Act, 1954 – It was enacted to provide a special form of marriage for the people of India and also for those residing outside India irrespective of their Religion. The above stated bill amends section 5 of Special Marriage Act,1954 which mandates the couple to give 30-day prior notice about the intended marriage to the marriage district officer.
Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 – It provides protection of the rights of women guaranteed under the constitution and protects victims from domestic violence within the family. This involves physical beating, rape, mental torture and abuse, financial abuse etc…
The Scheduled Caste and Scheduled tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 – It was enacted to prevent the cases of Atrocities against Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and to facilitate the social addition of Dalits into typical life of the Indian Society. These Atrocities are cruel act which includes assaulting, dishonouring, forcing to eat harmful substances, removing clothes, parading naked, sexually exploiting women etc…
State of Uttar Pradesh vs. Krishna Master and others
In this Case the Supreme Court awarded Capital Punishment to three people for killing six members in a family in the name of Honour Killing. The Bench considered it as the rarest of rare case, wiping out almost the entire family on the grounds to save honour of the family and the trail court was also justified with this punishment.
Lata Singh vs. State of Uttar Pradesh and others
In this case Supreme Court stated that Honour Killing are Brutal Cold-Blooded Murder and there is no honour in such killings. The Supreme Court was concerned about the occurrences of harassments, threats and violence against young girls and boys who marry outside their caste and held that such threats or harassments are illegal and those who commits it are severally punished. Since inter caste marriage is the step to destroy the caste system, Supreme Court held that once the individual becomes major, he/she can marry a person of their choice and if the family doesn’t approve to this inter caste or inter religious marriages then they can break the bond/social relation with their son or daughter but shouldn’t instigate act of violence or harass them. This would be the responsibility of Police Authorities or Administration to look over such acts and take up criminal proceedings if there is any violation such.
Arumugum Servai vs. State of Tamil Nadu
In this case the Supreme Court strongly criticized the practice of Khap Panchayat taking law into their hands and indulging in dirty cruel activities which endanger the people’s life who is exercising the right to choose.
Honour Killing is considered to be a big loophole in our country. It is mainly due to people’s thinking, as they are narrow minded, thinking only about the culture, tradition and honour of the community or family. There is no culture or tradition which talks about taking once life. People should be educated and should think broadly, and this is how we can overcome all those practices when we boldly stand against it.
Till now, though lots of sections, articles are being adopted, many cases are recorded and would continue to increase if government is not taking strict actions mainly is rural remote areas. Every individual should be left free to enjoy their basic rights.
M Spoorthi, 2nd year BALLB , BMS COLLEGE OF LAW