HONOUR KILLINGS / HONOUR CRIMES AND THE NEED FOR NEW LAW
Existing Penalties under Indian Penal Code:
Sections 299-304: Penalizes any person guilty of murder and culpable homicide not amounting to murder. The punishment for murder is life sentence or death and fine. The punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder is life imprisonment or imprisonment for upto 10 years and fine.
Section 307: Penalizes attempt to murder with imprisonment for upto 10 years and a fine. If a person is hurt, the penalty can extend to life imprisonment.
Section 308: Penalizes attempt to commit culpable homicide by imprisonment for upto 3 years or with fine or with both. If it causes hurt, the person shall be imprisoned for upto 7 years or fined or both.
Section 120A and B: Penalizes any person who is a party to a criminal conspiracy.
Sections 107-116: Penalizes persons for abetment of offences including murder and culpable homicide.
Section 34 and 35: Penalizes criminal acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention.
Section 300: introduce “fifthly” clause to Section 300 of IPC which at present defines “murder” under four categories. The additional definition would make khap-dictated honour killings a distinct offence and make all those who participate in the decision liable to be tried for the main charge, that is murder, and liable maximum penalty, death.
Arguments favoring new law
Making the crime of honour killing a separate offence would help bring more clarity for law enforcement agencies.
One of the proposals is to amend the Indian Evidence Act to put the burden of proof on the accused. Thus, the khap panchayat or the family members would be responsible for proving their innocence.
There would be joint liability under the proposed new law. The khap panchayat (or any group ordering honour killings and the person who carries out the killing would be jointly liable for punishment.
Presently there is no definition of Honour Killing/ crime or clarity.
Since Honour Killings /Honour crimes are not separate crime and hence we don’t have any data.
Protection powers to the magistrate at the District level
New law will provide mandate for special police cell in each district to provide protection to couples.
New law comes with a institutional machinery and the required coordination of all stakeholders. It will also mandate the different state government and the Centre to work on sensitization of the law enforcement agencies. The new law will mandate social initiatives and awareness to curb such violence through social means.
Honour crimes should include all the crimes against women which are perpetrated by the community. There are many cases of women being branded witches, paraded naked, tortured in public which are very heinous offences of honour and hence need to be strengthened by a special law and to have stringent punishments.
Having a special law can be deterrent.
Relaxation in the Special Marriages Act
The present procedure of getting a marriage registered is a long process. The complete process takes about 45 days. During this period a couple may be vulnerable. Steps need to be taken to simplify the registration process.
Arguments against new law
The existing penalty for the offence of murder is sufficient if they are implemented strictly and effectively.
A new set of laws would not deter honour killings because the basic issue is social sanction for acts committed to curtail same gotra marriage, inter-caste marriage, inter-religion marriage.
Need for creating awareness among traditional communities through education.
Holding khap panchayats collectively accountable can be detrimental to members who do not support such killing. Also, it could be misused for vindictive agendas.