Supreme Court cracks down on tradition of "honour killings"
NEW DELHI (TrustLaw) - India's Supreme Court has called for an end to customary practices which promote "honour killings", saying the brutal tradition of parents killing their children to protect their so-called reputation is "barbaric" and "shameful".
Khap Panchayats -- community groups comprising elderly men which set the rules in Indian villages in regions such as Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan -- are often seen as instigating such murders in these highly traditional regions. Yet these village councils have no legal sanction.
Activists say cases of families lynching men and women,who engage in relationships with those of a different caste or religion, to salvage their perceived honour are widespread in India's conservative northwestern belt.
"We have in recent years heard of Khap Panchayats which often decree or encourage honour killings or other atrocities on men and women of different castes or religion, who wish to get married or have been married ..." said a bench comprising of Justices Markandeya Katju and Gyan Sudha Misra on Tuesday.
"We are of the opinion that this is wholly illegal and has to be ruthlessly stamped out," said the two judges who were hearing a case of caste discrimination.
Any opposition to Khap Panchayats diktats are met with harsh punishment, including public beatings or ostracism. Political parties rarely speak out against these councils which form a major vote bloc for many of them.
Despite India's rapid modernisation and growing cosmopolitanism, which has been driven by accelerated economic growth, discrimination against low-caste communities known as Dalits and minority faiths such as Muslims persists in this predominately Hindu country.
The intermingling of caste and religion remains a taboo -- not only for largely rural illiterate populations, who have lived under a system of feudalism for centuries, but even for educated, well-off families in urban India.
In May last year, India's media highlighted the case of 22-year-old journalist Nirupama Pathak who allegedly was killed by her mother in their home in the eastern state of Jharkhand, after she was found to be pregnant by her lower caste boyfriend.
India's top court judges have now directed all administrative and police departments to ensure that couples in such relationships are not harassed or subjected to violence, adding that inter-caste marriages are in the national interest and would help dismantle India's age-old caste system.
"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 punishment," said the judgement. "Only in this way can we stamp out such acts of barbarism."
(TrustLaw is a global hub for free legal assistance and news and information on good governance and women’s rights run by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, For more TrustLaw stories, visit www.trust.org/trustlaw)
- Tweet this
- Share this
- Digg this
- UPDATE 3-Boeing, SpaceX win contracts to build 'space taxis' for NASA
- Boeing, SpaceX win contracts to build 'space taxis' for NASA |
- Iraqi official briefs Syria's Assad on efforts against Islamic State
- Pakistani Islamists use floods to turn opinion against India
- Google launches $105 Android One; eyes low-price smartphone boom
The electricity board in this Indian city has been instructed to avoid any power cuts and officials have been told to have their shoes polished and their shirts tucked in: Nothing has been left to chance for this week's visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping. Full Article
Give the public a role in Clean Ganga project, says Rajendra Pachauri Full Article
India to decide on diesel deregulation after state polls - oil ministry source. Full Article
Polls show Scottish opponents of independence with slight lead ahead of vote. Full Article
For Oscar-winning Tanovic, Emraan Hashmi’s “serial kisser” tag didn’t matter. Full Article