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Honor Killing

A Century which is known for guaranteed rights to ever individual has a major Knavery still existing in it, known as Honour killing. Honour killing is the unlawful killing of a woman for her actual or anticipated morally or mentally unclean and nasty behavior[1]. Honour killings are murders by families on family members who are said to have brought blot on the honour and name of family. These are activities in which a male member of the family slays a female relative for vitiating the family image. The term is also defined as the purposeful pre-planned murder, generally of a woman, by or at the command of members of her family impassioned by a perception that she has brought shame on the family.

There are bounteous of provision in The Constitution of India which guarantees an individual to exercise his/her choice independent of caste, religion or gender and salvation from honour related crimes including honour killings. Honour Killings are cases of homicide and murder under IPC. This grave crime of Honour killing pecks to homicide and murder because the acts are done with the intention of murdering the victims. The khap panchayats or family members who are the major slayer can also be booked under Section 302 of IPC. Such slayings also violates Articles 14, 15 (1) & (3), 17, 18, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India. So honour killing is against the basic constitutional rights.

A special law Special Marriage Act, 1954 was enacted which has a peculiar purpose of providing a special form of marriage for the people of India and all Indians populating in foreign countries, irrespective of the religion or faith ensued by either party, to perform the intended marriage. The Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Act, 2006 makes the provision for salvation of individual rights of human beings and the constitution of a National Human Rights Commission, State Human Rights Commission and Human Rights Courts for strong protection of human rights of individuals.

The case that can be considered with respect to the issue of honor killing can be the Kaithal Murder Case[2] of Manoj and Babli the decision of which was declared on March 29th 2010. The landmark adjudication was given by the Additional district and Session judge Vani Gopal Sharma. Five of Babli's family members, her brother Suresh, uncles Rajender & Baru Ram & cousins Satish & Gurdev -- were ordered to hang until death for slaying the couple on June 15, 2007. The judge sentenced the 7th accused, Mandeep Singh, driver of the Scorpio used in the crime, to seven years' jail for kidnapping and conspiracy.

In addition, the leader of Banawala khap, Ganga Raj, was awarded life sentence for devising a conspiracy to kill a couple just because they had married against the wishes of elders who had termed them "brother and sister."

The trend of honour killing is on the aggrandize and such killings have created a sense of fear amongst young people who intend to get married but are not able to infiltrate into wedlock out of fear. The social pressure and the sequential inhuman treatment by the core groups who expropriate to themselves the position of lawmakers and impose punishments which are extremely cruel inject immense fear that impel the victims to commit suicide or to suffer irreparably at the hands of these groups.

The egoism in such groups getting support from similar driven forces results in their becoming law into themselves. The violation of human rights and slaughter of fundamental rights take place in the name of class honour or group right or perverse individual perception of honour. A judge quoted in Shakti Vahini v Union of India.

Court held in a famous case of Shakti Vahini v Union of India[3] that the contention of choice is an inseparable facet of Liberty and Dignity. The choice of an individual is a chunk of dignity. The concept of liberty has to be weighed and tested on the touchstone of constitutional sensitivity, protection and the ideals it stands for. If the right to express one's own choice is curbed, dignity cannot be thought of in its sanctified completeness. When two adults marry out of their own volition, they choose their avenue, they consummate their relationship, they have the right to do so and any infringement of the said right is a constitutional violation.

These groups or assemblies who habitude in majority in the name of class or elevated honour of mob cannot claim power, authority and final say to impose any punishment. The elders of the family or clan can never be conceded to proclaim a verdict guided by some notion of passion and oust the life of the young who have exercised their choice to get married against the wishes of their elders or discordant to the customary practice of their clan.

Court while delivering this judgment relied on several cases which talks about the right of woman. It first quoted Lata Singh v. State of U.P [4]in which the court observed that there is no bar for inter-caste marriage under the Hindu Marriage Act or any other law. Court further held that this is a free and democratic country, and once a person becomes a major he or she can marry whosoever he /she like.

It also quoted cases like Asha Ranjan v. State of Bihar[5] and others, the Court acclaimed that the choice of woman in choosing her partner in life is a legitimate constitutional right. It is founded on individual choice that is recognized in the Constitution under Article 19, and such a right is not expected to perish to the concept of class honour' or group thinking'.

It can be halted by saying that a larger societal change is imperious to curb such crimes in the long run. This is only feasible through education and awareness. The Government will have to actively draft and implement policies in order to uplift the socio-economic condition of women, sensitization of the police and other parties concerned towards the need for gender equality

End-Notes:

  1. Shakti Vahini v Union of India (2018) 7 SCC 192
  2. Kaithal Murder Case
  3. Shakti Vahini v Union of India (2018) 7 SCC 192
  4. Lata Singh vs. State Of U.P. & Another ((2006) 5 SCC 475)
  5. Asha Ranjan vs. State of Bihar, (2017) 4 SCC 397

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