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Concept of Caste Based Honour Killing-A Contemporaneous Legal Changes

Purity is an illusion. The idea of purity has been used as an excuse for calamities like honor killings, bride burnings, child molestation purification is genocide. These words are quoted by Alice Glass. The main aim of the writing is to analyze the root cause of honor killing and what are the factors leading to honor killing mainly the caste based honor killing. Through this writing I tried to explain the role of khap panchayats I relation with such crime and their functions. The main object of the writing is to understand the need of a separate legislation for the honor killing because several judgments it is considered as a rarest of rare case.

Concept Of Caste Based Honour Killing

Honor Killing

Meaning: Honor killing means the murder of a person by family members, the reason is that the victim has brought dishonor upon the family name or prestige. Such types of killing are also termed as Customary killing. Most of the honor killings are based on the also thought of loss of their societal image.

According to Human Rights Watch
Honor killings are acts of vengeance, usually death, committed by family members against female family members, who are held to have brought dishonor upon the family. Women can be targeted by her family for a variety of reasons including refusing to enter in an arranged marriage, being the victim of a sexual assault, seeking a divorce- even from an abusive husband or committing adultery[1].

Causes Of Honour Killing

  • Inter caste or inter religion marriage
  • Engaging in Lesbian or Gay relationship
  • Refusing arrange marriage.
  • Rape
  • Adultery
  • For asserting Independence
  • Disobeying dress code given by family or community

Method Of Killing

  • Stoning & Beheading,
  • Stabbing & Beating
  • Burning & Acid attack
  • Hanging & Throat slashing
  • Shooting and strangulation.[2]

Caste Based Honour Killing

The caste based honour killing is one of the major reasons for the honour killing. Such kind of killing activity is raised in the current scenario and the major reasons for such crimes are the thinking of the caste, religion is the highest honour and that brings them honour in the society. Especially the caste based honor killing is based on the inter caste marriage.[3]

The existence of the caste system in our Indian society is a curse to the whole nation. The inter caste marriage is denied by certain cultural groups, by individuals, or by some gotra of that individual or parents of gotra. Not only the inter caste marriage leads the honour killing but also leads the inter religious marriage also[4].

Khap Panchayath

The Khap panchayats also named as customary panchayats and it is functioned as a kangaroo courts. The khap constitute the same caste group and ten to fifteen members were hold the khap they themselves termed as King of the Caste.The word khap is derived from Latin word Corpus which means an organization of individual.

The Khap panchayats is not officially recognized by any law but it is still exist and many people depended for the khap verdict because it is time saving and they believe the instant verdict is provided.

Legality Of Khap Panchayat

The khap panchayats is declared illegal and unconstitutional by the Supreme Court for their alleged encouragement of honour killings, the major demerit is still existing is that they have no a definite law or such types of crime especially for the honour killing. One of the thing is notable is they have several judicial decisions that criticize the Khap panchayats but they continue to hold sway in parallel with the state machinery and possibly more powerful than the elected panchayats[5].

Laws Relating To Honour Killing

There is no separate legislation or law relating to Honour killing in India. No provision is mention about such killings and major IPC provisions are given below:
  • Sections 299-304 of the IPC penalize the persons guilty culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
  • Section 307: Prescribe the attempt to murder
  • Section 308: Prescribe the attempt to commit culpable homicide by imprisonment for up to 3 years or with fine or with both.
  • Section 120A and B: deals with any person who is a member of a criminal conspiracy.
  • Sections 107-116: Deals with abetment of offences including murder and culpable homicide.
  • Section 34 and 35: Punishable offence based on criminal acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention[6].
Our Indian constitution several articles deals with the person�s right especially articles 14, 15 (1) ,19& (3) , and 21 of the Constitution of India. Honour killing violates a person�s right to live, right to move freely, right to equality and right to security. Therefore the �Honour killings� can also be combat with the provisions of the constitution also. Some changes in the sections of Indian Evidence Act, 1872, based on the �burden of proof� can be transferred over the family members over whom the guilt of �Honour Killing� had been bestowed on. By this change it will be become quiet easier to punish those who commit crime in the name of �Honour�.[7]

Khap Panchayat And Indian Judiciary

Justice Katju said:
The Atrocities in respect of personal lives of people committed by brutal, feudal-minded persons deserve harsh punishment,
The Supreme Court orders in several judgments and lay down criminal action against Khap members who raise for the deaths of couples who are married out of caste.

State of UP vs. Krishna Master [8]
In this case three persons liable for committing murder on the basis of honor. Court held that this is a rarest of rare case in the murder of flimsy ground of honour saving

Bhagwan Das v. State NCT of Delhi [9]
In this case, the appellant was very annoyed with his daughter, who had left her husband Raju and was living in an incestuous relationship with her uncle, Sriniwas. This angry the appellant as he thought this conduct of his daughter Seema had defiled his family, and hence he strangulated her with an electric wire. The court punished the appellant and this judgment was upheld by the High Court also.

Arumugam Servai v. State of Tamil Nadu[10]
People have the right to marry according to their choice. The court strongly depreciated the Khap/ Katta panchayats taking law into their own hands

Lata Singh v. State of U.P. [11]
The court held that that is nothing honour in killing of the Inter caste marriage people
It is important to note that in spite of such encouraging developments, the evil has not been checked efficiently. In reality, the system itself supports barbarism. The existed laws failed to tremendously in curbing such nasty practices. Even though, the judiciary has played an active role, yet there were instances in the past where court orders have been ignored and protested against.

Khap Panchayat And Hindhu Marriages Act, 1955

Khap Panchayats maintains the khap formed under the same gotra clans or sub-caste families in the villages it covers. It basically asks for the change in the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 banning marriages within the same gotra or even Gogra from the same village. Because they believe, a boy and a girl belonging to the same gotra are brothers and sisters. Love marriages are considered as taboo in the villages where the khap panchayat operates.[12]Indian National Lokdal does not support the Khap panchayat.

Caste Based Honour Killing �An Indian Perspective

In India most of the Honour killing is based on the caste. The inter caste marriage is considered as the one of the most cause for the honour killing. In my view point the caste based honor killing is not only n Haryana, Uttar Pradesh but also all the part of our country it exist but some of them bring attention to caste based honour killing only.

intercaste marriage is a grave offense, which not just outcomes in blacklist from the local area however now and again additionally sums to death, by the individuals from their own family or khap panchayats. Among Indians, the standard of endogamy is observed, that is the standard limiting marriage among the individuals from a similar clan, town, standing, sub-rank, or other social group. However, due to expanding effect of the westernization, the standings are losing their unbending nature. Simultaneously, numerous communists accept that both the frameworks are working all the while[13]

Anand Mohan v. State Of Bihar[14]
Famously known as chhotan shukla murder case, chhothan shukla is a lower caste person who was killed by upper caste persons.

Legislative Practies For Prohibition Of Unlawful Activities Of Khap Panchayath

The Prohibition of Unlawful Assembly (Interference with the Freedom of Matrimonial Alliance) Bill, 2011

The main aim of the bill is to prevent the kangaroo courts verdicts and a proper law for honour killing. First outline was offered in Law commission of India 20-1-2012Law Commission has drafted a Bill to stay away from obstruction of any per ton in the matrimonial association in the name of honour and tradition. It may be extended to one year and shall also be liable to fine up to ten thousand rupees.

The Bill further says that any member of an unlawful meeting who alone or in connection with other such member counsels, exhorts or bring demands upon an, person or persons so as to put off, or disapprove of the marriage which mainly pointed to by the said member of the unlawful assembly or creates an environment of hostility toward such couple or either of them or their relatives or supporters, shall be deemed to have acted in endangerment of their liberty.

The Endangerment of life and Liberty (Protection, Prosecution and other measures) Act, 2011
The act aims for prosecute persons or a group involved in such endangering conduct and activities. According to this law, the act of creating dangerous to life and liberty and include any manner of acts of threat, encouragement, commending, exhorting and creating an environment whereby loss of life and liberty is imminent or threatened and shall include:
  1. enforcement of trial such as social boycott, deprivation of the means of livelihood, denial of facilities and services which are otherwise generally available to the people the locality concerned and,
  2. Directly or indirectly forceful the persons concerned to leave or abandon their homestead in the locality. [15]

International Provisions
CEDAW(1979) consideration of dis honour of family treated as a discrimination against individual
UDHR (1948) All person has the right to born and right to chose and choose therir life partner
ICESCR(1976) all person has the right to free from all forms of violence

Beijing Platform for Action (BPFA 1995), Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women (1993) and Elimination of Crimes against Women Committed in the Name of Honour(2003). All are combine worked for the elimination of all forms of violence and for protection of people who are need safety.[16]

Aswathy R V. The Director General of Police [18]
The judgments that are relied on by the learned counsel for the petitioners are concerned, Gian Devi's case, is a case of writ of habeas corpus and insofar as Lata Singh's case is concerned, the Supreme Court has deprecated caste system prevailing in the country. Insofar as the case of Bhagwan Dass's case is concerned, a reading of the judgment would show that the Court was dealing with a situation of honour killing that is prevailing in some of the north Indian States in the country.

Ashish Sharma and Anr V. State of U.P [19]
The honour killings treated as barbaric, feudal practices which are a slur on our nation. This is necessary as a deterrent for such outrageous, uncivilized behavior. All persons who are planning to perpetrate `honour' killings should know that the gallows await them.

Sathish kumar V. State [20]
The case witnessed for one of another murder on the basis of honour, because of the died persons put take their marriage decisions not considering the community.
Divya V. State of Punjab and others [21]
Honour killing in the name of protecting the family pride, not giving two hoots to the rights of the runaway couples. Court give decisions like honour killing not amount murder but no adequate law for such crimes.

Honour Killing In Kerala

Related Case Laws
M. Gopalan V. State o Kerala [22]
The honour killing on the basis of inter caste marriage does not bring any honour to the family. The person who committed murder by brutal, feudal minded persons who deserve harsh punishment. Only in this way can we stamp out such acts of barbarism.

2018- Athira murder Case
The police officers confirmed Thursday�s murder of a girl at Pathanapuram, near Areekode, as honour killing and arrested Rajan, 42, father of the victim, in connection with the incident. Father held liable in this case.

2018-Kevin murder case
The Kevin murder case treated as a first caste killing conviction in Kerala. Principal session court held that double imprisonment for the persons for killing a Dalit Christian man relatives of neenu Chaco are convicted for the honour killing.

2020- Aneesh murder case
26-12-2020 Aneesh murdered by his wife relatives, this is a leading case suspected as a honour killing. Aneesh belongs to lower community and his wife is a higher community.[23]

Shakti Vahini V. Union Of India [24]
Court quoted with the judgment about the right of marriage is Liberty, taking the word in its concrete sense consists in the ability to choose. There is nothing honor in honour killings. The court also linked the honour related crimes.

Nattu V. State of UP [25]
In this case the court held that, the trend of killing in the name of honour was increasing day by day especially the murderers think that the honour is affected by inter caste marriage.

Sujit Kumar v. State of UP, Allahabad [26]
The khap acts are extremely disturbing acts not only the police, judiciary but also largely the society so that is irrational and there is need for curb out the disgraceful and barbaric acts.

Dilipkumar v. The Secretary To Government[27]
In this case the court further re iterate the Lata singh case and Bhagawandas case and again point out that there is nothing honour in inter caste marriage murders.

  • There is a urgent need to enact a separate law for Honour killing
  • Adequate need for amend the IPC, Indian Evidence Act
  • There is a need to special courts for fast proceedings of such crimes
  • In my view point, there is a need to more flexible laws and simple procedure for marriage.
  • Conduct awareness programs especially rural areas
  • First of want a uniform definition for honour killing and there is a fast track needy for amend the definition part
  • Khap panchayat system must be abolished
  • There is a need for punishment for whoever participates in khap
  • People must be aware about the laws and their protection

Honour killing is a sign of weakness of those who follow it and kill the humanity which is nothing but a God creation they have no rights to do so. This wordings quoted by Parikshit kaushal. The Honour killing is a barbarous act and in my view point that is a shameful act to kill their own relatives and nothing a honour render it. India, our country gives several protective laws with a well defined judiciary, so there is no need for the Khap panchayats. The irrational attitude o some people based on custom makes acts against the society and laws.

In my view point, the intercaste marriage is not badly affecting their honour but we can make it a good relation and protect the fundamental rights of every person and respect each one�s life. Every man has one life and god given life cannot take by a man kind by like that any right to takeout the god given life. We have the right but we have no right to kill or arm another�s life.

  5. ibid
  6. Indian penal code,1860
  7. Indian constitution,1949
  8. Criminal Appeal No. 1180 of 2004
  9. (2011) 6 SCC 396
  10. ( 2011) 6 SCC 405]
  11. (2006, 5 SCC 475)
  13. Supra
  14. 992 (2) BLJR 852
  15. supra
  17. (2006)1 SCC 681
  18. WP(C).No. 5683 of 2017 (I)
  19. (2006) 102 SCC 121
  20. Appeal (Crl.) 256-257 of 2005
  21. Civil Writ Petition No. 9656 of 2015 | 28-05-2015
  22. WP(C).No. 24015 of 2011
  24. 2018 7 scc 1601
  25. AIR 2018 SC1601
  26. Wp No. - 19345 of 2019
  27. W P No.26991 of 2014 and MP.No.1 of 2014
Written By: Princy A. F, LLM- Department of Law - Calicut University

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