Author: Sakshi Rajawat , Student at Mody University, Lakshmangarh.
India is a multicultural nation and now it is witnessing an upsurge in crimes in relation to culture and tradition. Honour Killing falls under this category in which a person is murdered by his/her own family members due to the fear of loss of reputation. All the judicial and legislative actions are ending up being ineffective due to the absence of separate law for Honour Killing. This article aims at specifying main causes as well as suggestions to prevent Honour Killing.
Keywords: Multicultural, Tradition, Honour Killing, Murder, Judicial, Legislative.
“It was much easier for them to kill me than to understand my will”
There is no other country more diverse than India and this diversity possess in it many cultural, religious and social beliefs which are prioritized by people in such a manner that no annoyance or acts in odd with these beliefs are entertained.
Family, in order to shield their honour and reputation, make away with the women which is named as Honour Killing or Customary Killing. It is not a gender centric crime but statically majority of victims are women.
Human rights watch defines Honour Killing as the act of violence, usually murder, committed by male family member against female members, who are held to have brought dishonor to the family.
- People have misunderstood the system of cast and religion which results in death of thousands of people in name of honour and Honour Killing due to Inter-cast marriage forms a classic example of this category.
- Khap panchayats which are made for welfare turns into the final commanders using their power in a wrong way by taking law in their hands.
- Right to choose is considered as an abuse of these rigid norms.
- Patriarchy hold in itself a belief that a man should enforce these norms and women should be a vessel of family’s honour.
India is known for its rich culture, unity and tradition. But who knew that these beliefs will gain superiority over rights guaranteed by the constitution? Cast system, religious divisions, discrimination, patriarchy, honour, prestige and sense of superiority are certain factors which are momentary in nature but are still considered to clutch higher value than the life of an individual.
The fact that Indian society has an ingrained patriarchal factor cannot be repudiated and is noted by all. And considering women as bearer of family’s honour is a conservative dyed in the wool and have become fundamental to the extent that any attempt by women to breach these norms is seen as a shameful failure to fulfill obligation towards her family and an attack on cultural norms.
The most obvious actions of victims include refusal for arrange marriage, inter-cast or inter-religion marriage, adultery, being victim of rape or assault, attraction towards same-sex, etc. People are mercilessly murdered, slaughtered, hanged, burned and buried alive and these activities are encouraged in name of triumph of rigid and conservative norms of so called morally and ethically established society.
It is necessary for people to understand that “Honour killings are nothing but barbaric cold- blooded murders and no honour is involved in such killings”. Such criminal acts do not match the status of India being the largest democracy with lengthiest constitution where everyone is guaranteed rights without any discrimination. States which report majority of Honour Killing cases in India are Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, etc.
The issue of Honour Killing was first addressed in the Indian Parliament in the year 2009 where the demand for a separate law was made. Later in the year 2010, a landmark judgment was passed (Manoj-Babli Honour Killing Case) which granted life imprisonment to Khap Panchayat for ordering Honour Killings.There is no specific law for addressing the matter of Honour Killing but many existing laws provide protection from these evils.
- Honour and Traditional Bill, 2019– Rajasthan became the first state to pass a special law for Honour Killing in which the offence is non-bailable and punishable with death or life imprisonment in addition to fine upto Rs. 5 Lakhs.
- The Special Marriage Act, 1854  is uniformly applicable on every citizen of India and validates the inter-cast and inter-religion marriage.
- The Indian Majority Act, 1875  specifies 18 years as the age of majority when a person becomes competent to take decisions for himself.
- The Scheduled Casts and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989  prevents the atrocities against SC and ST and this Act is associated with Honor Killing because majority of cases are related to difference in social status and castes.
- Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005  protect women from being victim of violence by family.
- The Prevention of Crimes in name of Honour and Tradition and Prohibition of Interference with the Freedom of Matrimonial Alliances Bill, 2017  was passed in order to prevent every abusive act done in name of honour and also specifies that young people have control over their own life which cannot be encroached by anyone.
Constitution is the backbone of the nation but Honour Killing violates many rights guaranteed by constitution to every citizen, such as-
- Article 14: Right to Equality
Right to equality also includes right to equal protection of law which is shattered when the bodies made for dealing with matters of dispute themselves join hands with the offenders. Equal protection of law shall be given without any favoritism or discrimination.
- Article 15: Prohibition of Discrimination
According to this Article, no discrimination is allowed on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth, but most of the cases of Honour Killing are the result of social, religious or gender differences among people.
- Article 19: Right to Freedom
Practicing right to freedom of choice is one of the major actions which triggers the sentiments of families and orthodox societies.
- Article 21: Right to Life and Personal Liberty
Honour killing very evidently violates the right to life and personal liberty which also includes right to live with dignity.
Indian Penal Code, 1860 provides with penalties which are applied in cases of Honour Killing. These include-
- Section 299-304 which penalises a person guilty of murder with death sentence and fine and for culpable homicide not amounting to murder with imprisonment upto 10 years and fine.
- Section 307 penalises attempt to murder with imprisonment upto 10 years and fine which may be extended to life imprisonment.
- Section 308 specifies imprisonment of upto 3 years or fine or both for attempt to commit culpable homicide.
- Section 120 A and B provides with imprisonment of 6 months for criminal conspiracy.
- Section 107-116 penalises a person for abatement of murder and culpable homicide.
Honor killing not only violates domestic laws but it also contravenes many international bodies working for elimination of evil practices that affect human rights, such as the International Convention on Human Rights (1948) which talks about basic human rights including right to life.
India is among 185 countries who have signed the UN Charter which focus on equality, justice and kindness. But Honour Killing very evidently violates these principles. And last but not the least, it derogates the principles of Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (1979). 
- Separate laws should be made for Honour Killing and awareness programs regarding available rights and remedies should be organized which will help people to understand that way to seek justice.
- People should be educated as to clearly understand the concept of cast and religion and avoid its misinterpretation.
- Even a single threat by family should be considered potential danger to the life of a victim and proper protection should be provided.
- Better implementation of law requires proper research in order to figure out the exact situation of the society as not all cases are registered due to family pressure.
It is difficult to understand how killing someone restores or shields the honour of a family. Every right of an individual and laws of the nation are violated behind the doors and still there exist no specific law for such crimes. Gender equality is trashed when female victims outnumber the male one’s, right to choose is shattered when a person is ruthlessly killed for expressing his/her choice, protection of law loses its existence when panchayats themselves violates law and the actions done to protect dignity brings in return the most undignified tag upon the family ‘An Offender’. The solution to this issue lies in complete eradication of orthodox beliefs along with proper execution of laws in society not leaving behind any lacuna.
- Indian Kanoon
- SCC Online
- Legal service India
 BA.LLB-III-year, School of Law, Mody University, Lakshmangarh
 Anand Mishra, ‘Honour Killings: The Law It Is and The Law It Ought to Be’, available at manupatra.com.
 Lata Singh vs State of Uttar Pradesh and Another, AIR 2006 SC 2522.
 Tarun Sharma, ‘Impact of Honour Killing in the Society of India’, on Nov. 25, 2018 available at legalserviceindia.com.
 Smt. Chandrapati vs State of Haryana and Ors., 2011.
 Act No. 43 of 1954.
 Act No. 9 of 1875.
 Jyoti Alias Jannat and Anr vs State of UP and others, (2006) 5 SCC 475 34 (2011) 6 SCC 405.
 Act No. 33 of 1989.
 Act No. 43 of 2005.
 Bill No. 18 of 2017
 Anwar Ali Sarkar vs The State of West Bengal, AIR 1952 Cal 150.
 Maneka Gandhi vs Union of India, 1978 AIR 597, 1978 SCR (2) 621.
 Kaushiki, ‘Honour Killings: Are we prepared to tackle the problem?’, on July 13, 2010 available at prsindia.org.
 Supra Note 2.