Author: Lenna Joshy, Student at Government Law College, Thrissur, Kerala.
Co-Author: Jessica Mariam Vinod, Student at Government Law College, Thrissur, Kerala.
Honour killing is kind of violent acts which prevail very common in India. By looking into the History of cases of honour killings, when analysed clearly it shows that loss of honour always ends in the killing. Through this kind of brutal act it activate casteism and gotra culture .Honor killing is defined as the homicide of a member of a family by other members, due to the perpetrators having the belief that the victim violated the principles of a community or religion the victim has brought shame or a kind of dishonour upon the family. Honour Killings can be described as an extrajudicial punishment too. Punishment for sexual faithlessness, marrying against the will of parents, being involved in a relationship which the victim’s family finds inappropriate & reselling against the tribal & social matrimonial customs. People thinks that when these offences were committed by the victim brings insult to the family, tribe or community. The women upon whom suspicion has fallen are never allowed to defend themselves is what some reports state. According to the statistics report by the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB), in India there are more than 300 cases where reported. It clearly indicates that there is an urgent need of transformation in existing laws.
EXISTING LAW PROVISIONS
It is a matter of disappointment to realise that, the Indian legal system does not have a specific law for such a heinous offence of honour killing. Section 307 of IPC is regarding the attempt of murder. Many cases come within the purview of this section. Punishment for those booked under this section is 10yrs imprisonment with fine. This punishment may become life imprisonment if the act of the accused causes hurt to the person. If the one accused of attempt to murder is already punished with life imprisonment, then he will be sentenced to death. Section 308 of IPC is about the attempt to commit culpable homicide. Punishment is 3 yrs imprisonment or fine or both. This will extend to 7 years if the act of the accused causes hurt to any person. Another important law point concerning this offence is section 506 of IPC. The offence is of criminal intimidation which is punished with 2 yrs imprisonment or fine or both. It is 7 yrs imprisonment or life imprisonment with or without fine if the threat is to cause death, grievous hurt, etc. Section 34 & 35 penalises criminal acts done by several persons in furtherance of a common intention. Here, each of those persons is liable as if it were done by him alone. In general section 299 to 304 IPC, penalises any person guilty of murder & culpable homicide not amounting to murder. Punishment for murder is life sentence or death with or without fine and for culpable homicide, it is 10 yrs imprisonment & fine. Section 120A & 120B penalise any person who is involved in a criminal conspiracy. IPC Section 107 to 116 penalises persons for abetment of offences including murder & culpable homicide.
- Bhagwan Dass v. State(NCT of Delhi)
This is a case of gruesome honour killing. The facts of the case says that the appellant was extremely furious by the act of his daughter, who deserted her husband & was living in an incestuous relation( sexual intercourse between people of the same family) with her uncle Sriniwas. This the appellant as he thought this very act of his daughter Seema had dishonoured their family. Owing to this, he strangled his daughter to death with the help of an electric wire. The trial court thus convicted the appellant & the decree or the judgement was upheld by the High court. The case is an instance of circumstantial evidence. The existing law states that , a person can be convicted on the basis of circumstantial evidence; provided the connections in the chain of circumstances links the accused with the offence beyond reasonable doubt. Again ,motive, is an extremely relevant factor here which is different from the cases where direct evidence is provided. In our case the motive of killing the daughter for having involved in adultery with her uncle , is evident.
- Analben Rajendrsinh Zala v. State of Gujarat
Petitioner appeared before the court to seek police protection as theyare very much apprehensive of both their family’s conduct. The 19yr old female petitioner desires to marry someone who didn’t complete 21yrs of age at the time of filing the petition. The advocate urged for his petitioner that, she left her parents as per her own wish & thus she reasonably apprehended threat of honour killing by the family as they didn’t agree and support the marriage as the boy was from a different caste. The decision was that, the concerned police officer may apply his mind & provide the protection accordingly. The length of this grant would depend on the ground reality. Petition is allowed in the above stated terms & disposed off accordingly.
- Manoj & Babli Case
Manoj & Babli were in love & eloped to get married. The family members on getting to know this were enraged and tracked them down. Initially the case was taken to Khap Panchayat where decisions weren’t just & were all biased in favour of the family. Ultimately the victims Babli & Manoj were abducted & murdered by the Khap Panchayat &Babli’s family as her grandfather was the Khap leader. But, when the case reached before the court of Karnal district, they sentenced 5 perpetrators involved in the murder to life sentence & the driver involved in abduction was sentenced to 7 yrs imprisonment. This is the first honour killing case becoming a landmark judgement.
- Kausalya & Shankar case
Kausalya belonged to OBC community & her husband Shankar belong to Scheduled caste community. Both were students of an engineering college when they eloped in the year 2015 before which she had to suffer abuse & threatening from her parents of facing consequences if she didn’t end the relationship. Her family, via black magic & alike rituals abducted her & she was tortured more. 3 days later she was rescued after Shankar filed a police complaint. A year later, they were attacked and Shankar was hacked to death. Kausalya was brutally beaten up & was left as dead. She underwent 6 months of treatment to recover. The next year, the court ruled that the murderous assault was a conspiracy led by Kausalya’s father Chinnaswamy. The evidence & proofs were in black & white before the court. Confessions were made. Her father & 5 others were found guilty of conspiracy & murder under the sections of prevention of Atrocities against SC & STAct POA & were sentenced to death.Two others were sentenced to life imprisonment& 3 others, which included her mother were exonerated. Convicts appealed & High court in an extraordinary judgment exonerated her father acquitting him of all charges saying he was roped in& there was no caste factor involved in the crime. The exoneration of the mother & others were upheld by sessions court. And those who were convicted of murder, their punishment of death sentence was reduced to life imprisonment. The saddest part is that, the 311 page judgement of High, no where showed the voice of Kausalya. The judgement, clearly showed the urgency of having a new separate law exclusively to deal with such crimes.A state of ultimate disappointment after all her struggles & fights. The end result was injustice.
SUGGESTIONS & PROPOSITIONS FOR A NEW LAW
As said earlier, India doesn’t have a specific law for cases of honour killing which is really very unfortunate as this is one of the most heinous offences. Many at times, this offence is committed by a mob, which makes it nearly impossible to pinpoint the culprits. Collection of evidence is the next big challenge & eyewitnesses hardly ever come forward boldly. There are some bills which are in its latent stage against honour killing and may be introduced in the parliament sooner. But, again, this is also taking a lot of time & offences of this nature are rising at an alarming rate. Quick implementation of laws, is the need of the hour. Having a new and separate law for honour killing is the best solution and helps law enforcement agencies to get more clarity. But, even important is efficient & effective implementation of the new law made. Another possibility is to bring an amendment in the Indian Evidence Act to shift the burden of proof to the accused to prove their innocence. There should be laws to get the police or custodial protection for the person or couple under threat of their family members. As far as possible, the victims or the couple should be given a chance to defend themselves or at least be heard of what they want to say. Family can attempt to correct them if their decision is inappropriate. If they are not ready to listen to the family, they can take external help for counselling. Government Cells can be set up especially for these cases through an act. In the Indian Penal Code, the maxim of doli incapax gets absolute immunity to children below 7 yrs of age from any offence they commit assuming they don’t have the mental capacity to understand the nature of offence they commit. And for children above 7 yrs, liability is decided depending on whether the child has the maturity to understand the nature of the offence he/she has committed. Similarly in a scenario where a male or female has decided to get married, their age shouldn’t be the factor barring them from making a decision. It must be, their mental capacity to understand and know in depth the decision they make. The freedom & right to choose a life partner for oneself should be left to their will once they attain sufficient mental maturity.
The good solution for these kinds of evil acts is only possible by eradication of myths in the minds of people. Violence is never a solution to any problem, however, grave the problem maybe. In fact, it only worsens the problem. It is the high time for the people to develop a real scence. In a case, where the girl’s husband is killed by her family owing to honour killing, it is very difficult for the girl to come out of the trauma. The girl very often goes into such a deep state of depression that she will find it very difficult to come back to life. She won’t have another life. The wound & trauma will remain forever. Awareness must be spread to peacefully sort out matters. Society & family need to be open-minded & must have the patience to listen to the problems of the girl or boy. According to the constitution of India the peoples are entitled to have a right of equal and fair treatment. Laws need to be made & existing ones should be amended. Most importantly, they must be properly implemented. By strengthening the current laws will greatly helps in mitigate these kinds of crimes as a result the current scenario will be improved.