The Horror of Honour Killings !


When I first got to reading about this age-old concept, it did not occur to be as a drastic or an unforeseeable concept. India, for one is not regarded as being the one with the most forwards mindset of the all. Unfortunately the people of India have not been able to move past their aboriginal mindset. Much may have to do with the caste-system and the clash between major religions, day in and day out. That is a tangent we do not want to delve into, in this article. Therefore we will stick around to the notorious though out of the spotlight or rather a socially avoided concept, which our legislation has failed to bring into consideration, till today. The first time I got to reading about the term Honour Killing, it struck me as vengeance with a twist. Now it is important to understand why this phenomenon takes place in the first scenario. Perhaps a deeper link to it’s roots, guides us through patriarchy. Is it because in India, till date, patriarchy remains a very strong concept and one which is widely followed, in most third world countries. Patriarchy is not necessarily a flawed supposition.
 
 


However to simply cut to the chase, Honour killing usually is a practice prevalent in the Northern part of India, but is not restricted to that segment alone. Cases have been noted in Haryana, Uttar-Pradesh and Punjab. There have been fewer cases in Delhi, however the capital has still noted some cases nevertheless. 

Honour killings usually take place when the woman from the family does not adhere to age-old caste and cultural norms and decides to marry outside her original caste or religion.

The basic reason behind honour killings is the idea that a family’s honour is tied to a woman’s chastity.  Thus, a wide range of causes can trigger honour killing such as marital infidelity, pre-marital intercourse, having unapproved relationships, refusing an arranged marriage or even rape.

0AA8ADE7-1EAF-4705-BAA9-525C2700F408_1_105_c

In India, honour killings take place if a couple marries outside their caste or religionKhap panchayats also oppose and mete out punishments to couples who marry within the same gotra (lineage) or transgress other societal norms.  A recent judgement by a sessions court in Karnal for the first time awarded the death penalty to five men for murdering a young couple who had married against the diktats of a khap panchayat.  It gave life sentence to a member of the khap panchayat who declared the marriage invalid and was present when the killing took place. On June 22, the Supreme Court issued a notice to the centre and eight states to explain the steps taken to prevent honour killing.  Taking a cautious approach the government rejected Law Minister, M. Veerappa Moily’s proposal to amend the Indian Penal Code and rein in the khap panchayats (caste based extra constitutional bodies).  It however decided to constitute a Group of Ministers to consult the states and look into the scope for enacting a special law that would treat honour killing as a social evil. Experts are divided over the proposed honour killing Law.  Some experts argue that the existing laws are sufficient to deter honour killing, if implemented properly while others feel that more stringent and specific provisions are required to tackle the menace of honour killings.Although such crimes are widely suspected to be underreported, the United Nations Population Fund estimates that as many as 5,000 women are killed annually for reasons of honor. These crimes take place throughout the world and are not limited to one specific religion or faith. However, they have rather significantly and consistently occurred in various parts of the Middle East and South Asia, with nearly half of all honor killings occurring in India and Pakistan.
 
In the 21st century, there was an increased international awareness of honor killing, however, some countries remained reluctant to take the necessary steps to effectively criminalize it. In the relatively uncommon event that a man was prosecuted for the killing, the subsequent trial would often focus on the woman’s alleged behaviour, rather than the violence committed against her. When a man was found guilty, the defendant could claim that the crime had been committed to restore sullied family honor and petition the court for a reduced sentence. In India, for example, the government enacted strict penalties for violence against women during the 1980s. However, honor killings based on intercaste and interreligious marriages continued to take place in rural areas, where they were largely unreported to police because of direct or indirect support among village residents. Such murders were often ruled as accidents when reported. A woman beaten, burned, strangled, shot, or stabbed to death could be ruled a suicide, even if there were multiple wounds and there was no possibility the woman could have killed herself.
 
In some countries, such as Jordan, honor killings are either legal or minimally punished. Article 340 of the Jordanian Penal Code exempts from punishment those who kill female relatives found “guilty” of committing adultery, and Article 76 of the temporary penal code allows defendants to cite “mitigating reasons” in assault crimes. In 2011 Jordanian legislators attempted to amend Article 76 to prevent its use by defendants in honor killings, but pressure from social groups caused those efforts to stall.

Existing Penalties under Indian Penal Code:

  • Sections 299-304: Penalises any person guilty of murder and culpable homicide not amounting to murder.  The punishment for murder is life sentence or death and fine.  The punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder is life imprisonment or imprisonment for upto 10 years and fine.
  • Section 307: Penalises attempt to murder with imprisonment for upto 10 years and a fine.  If a person is hurt, the penalty can extend to life imprisonment.
  • Section 308: Penalises attempt to commit culpable homicide by imprisonment for upto 3 years or with fine or with both.  If it causes hurt, the person shall be imprisoned for upto 7 years or fined or both.
  • Section 120A and B: Penalises any person who is a party to a criminal conspiracy.
  • Sections 107-116: Penalises persons for abetment of offences including murder and culpable homicide.
  • Section 34 and 35: Penalises criminal acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention.
Arguments favouring new lawArguments against new law
  • Making the crime of honour killing a separate offence would help bring more clarity for law enforcement agencies.
  • One of the proposals is to amend the Indian Evidence Act to put the burden of proof on the accused.  Thus, the khap panchayat or the family members would be responsible for proving their innocence.
  • There would be joint liability under the proposed new law.  The khap panchayat (or any group ordering honour killings) and the person who carries out the killing would be jointly liable for punishment.
  • The existing penalty for the offence of murder is sufficient if they are implemented strictly and effectively.
  • A new set of laws would not deter honour killings because the basic issue is social sanction for acts committed to curtail same gotra marriage, inter-caste marriage, inter-religion marriage.
  • Need for creating awareness among traditional communities through education.
  • Holding khap panchayats  collectively accountable can be detrimental to members who do not support such killing.  Also, it could be misused for vindictive agendas.



It remains to be seen if India is effectively able to address this tug of war between tradition and modernity.



isclaimer: –

This blog is owned and maintained by Hardi Goradia.

The content on this site is offered only as a public service to the web community and does not constitute solicitation or provision of legal advice.  This site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney licensed or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. You should always consult a suitably qualified attorney regarding any specific legal problem or matter. The comments and opinions expressed on this site are of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of the firm or any individual attorney.

Nothing on this site is intended to create an attorney-client relationship and nothing posted constitutes legal advice. Neither the transmission of the information contained on this site nor your use of the information or communication with Hardi, creates an attorney-client relationship between you and Hardi. No information communicated to Hardi, through this site will be protected by either the attorney-client privilege or the work product doctrine.

This website does not provide legal advice of any kind, and we cannot guarantee that the information is accurate, complete or up-to-date. Given the nature of and speed with which online communications are developed, the opinions and thoughts posted to this site are of a casual nature and may change after further reflection. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.

Since legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and laws are constantly changing, nothing on this site should be used as a substitute for the advice of competent legal counsel. The author, Hardi Goradia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on this site and disclaim all liability in respect to such information. You should not act upon information in this website without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction.

The author of the content of this site are only authorised to practice law in the jurisdictions in which they are properly licensed. For more information, please contact the author. The author listed on this website is not certified by any state’s or jurisdiction’s board of legal specialisation; nor certified as an “expert” or “specialist” pursuant to any authority governing the practice of law.

 

5 thoughts on “The Horror of Honour Killings !

Add yours

  1. Hardi wonderful insight on Honour Killing. Indian Rural district level Panchayats and their surpach Or mukhias must be educated in their vernacular languages on all IPC SECTIONS and Punishments there by on commitimg Honour Killing. My request to you is to appeal for the same at Home Ministry Level to Secretaries of Law Ministry. More over please study voices in favour and against Mercy Killing and cover the same in your upcoming blogs. Bravo👏Keep it up

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: