“Purity is an illusion. The idea on purity has been used as an excuse for calamities like Honour killings, Bride burnings, and Child molestation. Purification is genocide”. –Alice Glass
India is always proud of its democracy, secularism between and after so many years of Independence. Indian society is a multicultural and pluralistic society where a lot of beliefs and faith regulate the human life of the citizens. The Indian spiritual holy books like The Gita, The Mahabharata, The Quran, The Bible, etc. have been the model of thinking pattern on Indian Society. One such thing, which Indian people consider very precious is “honour”. In a patriarchal society, women are considering as bearer of honour of the family. Counter activities taken by the family in the name of honour is known as Honour Killing. Women are targeted for various reasons, including, inter caste or inter religion marriage, refusal to enter into arranged marriage being victim of sexual assault, seeking divorce or committing adultery.
Honour crime is a vintage crime which still holds its place in today’s society in spite of modern mindset and advance thinking. Laws in some countries have totally banned honour killing and is regarded as heinous crimes. Honour killing is a killing of a person on the name of honour. It is a global phenomenon. It is very difficult to estimate at family members declared it as a suicide or accident and did not lodge a report for the activity. Even if this incident comes out of the family then also they gave lot some of amount to press to not release this statement in the public. Law in regards to honour killing was also not sufficient and country like India does not have any law. The extent of this crime varies from state to state and from country to country.
However, ethoses of marriage remain the same. In India most of the cases of Honour Killing were recorded in state of Punjab due to the presence of ‘Khap Panchayat’ or ‘Caste Panchayat’. Khap Panchayat is a group of person or community especially found in villages. They take laws in their own hands and indulge in offence activities which endanger the personal lives of persons marrying according to their free will.
Smt. Laxmi Kachlwaha vs. State of Rajasthan, this petition is filled by a lady in public interest drawing attention of this court to the malpractice and atrocities allegedly being committed by the bodies called caste panchayats on the weaker- sections of the concerned communities, especially on the woman members of the community. It is also alleged by the petitioner that the community panchayats are forcibly dissolving legal marriages and granting illegal divorce to legally wedded couples. They harass the ladies of the community by following various unfair practices.
Perhaps honour is an old- fashioned notion. Today people are rarely referred to as honourable or dishonourable. In Arab cultures, as distinct honour code, called as purda, called for females to comply with social norms, under which they are required to safeguard from contact with unauthorised persons. Generally it is seen honour killing is faced by the females and long back country is facing with the gender inequality. We all live in the patriarchal society where inter religion, inter caste marriages act as an obstacle and each time the women was the bearer of the punishment.
Moving forward to the laws, there are no such defined laws which prescribe punishment for this heinous crime till now in India. But there are certain laws which are violated such as: Constitution of India has been the basic structure and all the rights which are enjoyed by the citizens are derived from this constitution. However, honour killing violated certain provisions of the constitution that contrary to the basic rights of the person. Such are Articles 14, 15(1), 15(3), 19 and 21 of Indian Constitution Act. As discussed earlier honour killing are usually practiced on women who leads to gender biasness and violated Article 14. The freedom of expressing a women choice is suppressed and this suppression further leads to such killing thereby violates Article 19.Article 15(1) prohibits the state from discriminating against citizens on grounds only of religious, race, sex, caste and place of birth or any of them. Women’s role in life is ancillary: as a dutiful daughter, an obedient wife and a self- sacrificing mother. Indian Penal Code, 1860 under this Section 300 talks about the murder and honour killing is generally pre- planned, premeditated, well executed with the connivance of family member, society and sometimes with the assistance of police officers. Homicide and honour killing can be interrelated it can be said as the murder but would not be correct. Honour killing are those murder which are done for the honour, prestige or esteem of the family member is known as honour killing. According to Section 3 of the Indian Majority Act, 1875 every person domiciled in India share attain the age of majority on completion of 18 years and those who are provided with the guardian will attain majority at the age of 21 years. People of khap panchayats dismissed the valid marriage on the ground of majority even if both has attain the age of majority. Special Marriage Act, 1954 it is made to make inter caste or inter religion marriage a valid marriage.
Honour is a concept which is always linked which women of family. Men are considered to monitor women and prevent women from abusing the so called Honour. Men are allowed to move freely during late hours while women are not allowed to do so. The existence of caste system in Indian society is a curse on the nation and will soon destroy the better. We sometimes hear of honour killing of such persons who undergo inter caste marriage or inter-religion marriage of their own free will. There is nothing honourable in such killings, and in fact they are nothing but barbaric and shameful acts of murder committed by brutal, feudal-minded persons who deserve harsh punishment. Only in this way can we stamp out such acts of barbarism.
Lata Singh vs. State of Uttar Pradesh, this case was filed by a girl in Supreme Court of India under Article 32 in form of a writ for her right to marry a person with her own will. The writ filed by petitioner was for the protection of her “right to choose” which means right to marry a person of her own choice. Petitioner was a major girl live with her brother. One day she left her brother house on her will to marry a man of her choice outside of her caste whose name was Bramha Nand Gupta. They married in one Arya Samaj Mandir in Lucknow and they had a child out of his wedlock. That the brothers of the petitioner were against this relationship. There was a hue n cry as this marriage was an inter-caste marriage. Court held: the view was that there is no bar for inter caste marriage provided under the Hindu Marriage Act or any other law of the land and, hence, no offence was committed by the petitioner, her husband or husband’s relatives.
Justice Markandey Katju stated “Honour Killing is nothing but cold blooded murder and no honour is involved in such killings”.
A landmark judgement of Honour Killing is Manoj-Babli honour killing case was the honour killing of Indian newlyweds Manoj Banwala and Babli in June 2007 and the subsequent court case which historically convicted defendants for an honour killing. The accused in the murder included relatives of Babli. Relatives of Manoj, especially his mother, defended the relationship. This killing was ordered by a Khap Panchayat, a religious caste-based council among jats. The khap passed a decree prohibiting marriage against societal norms. The ruling was based on the assumption that couple belonged to the Banwala gotra and were therefore considered to be siblings despite not being directly related and any union between them would be invalid and incestuous. Nevertheless, the couple went ahead with their marriage, following which they were abducted and killed by Babli’s relatives. The court held death sentences to all the family members.
Honour killings though seen as a customary crime is no yet recognised in Indian laws. In spite of increase in honour related crimes and judgements and expressions of outrage in courts across India, the Governments has displayed criminal negligence in their approach to these citizens. It has become a curse for the society just for the sake of honour the family compel the member to commit suicide or even kill themselves. Government should make proper laws and overcome this heinous offence of honour killing.