New Delhi, May 13: A government panel has recommended the enactment of a “comprehensive, standalone law” on the so-called “honour killings”, handing equal punishment to the killers, plotters and the instigators at kangaroo courts.
“The current provisions in the Indian Penal Code are inadequate in dealing with these acts of crime,” says the Planning Commission’s steering committee on women’s agency and child rights for the 12th Five-Year Plan.
Its report, posted on the plan panel’s website on Thursday, also calls for protection of the threatened couples against false charges such as kidnapping and for safe houses to be provided to them. (See chart)
The recommendations are not binding but sources said the Centre was working on such a bill.
In murder cases now, those who order the killing usually receive lesser punishment than the actual killers. For “honour killings”, the steering committee wants the same punishment as murder, ranging from a life term to the death sentence — including for those who ordered or instigated the killing.
“Honour killings” often take place when a couple marry outside their caste or within their gotra (clan) in breach of longstanding tradition, and are usually ordered or approved by family members or khap panchayat elders.
Another aspect of these murders is the passive role often played by the administration and police, who often fail to take steps to protect the victims even when they know of the threat. The steering committee has recommended that the new law fix the police’s liability.
An alleged example of the police’s prejudices came last week when TV channels purportedly showed a deputy inspector-general in Uttar Pradesh telling the father of a kidnapped girl that he should kill his daughter if she has eloped. “I would kill my sister if she eloped,” the officer was quoted as saying.
The steering committee has recommended that anyone publicly glorifying any harassment or killing in the name of honour be punished.
The Centre has received similar recommendations for a standalone law from a Planning Commission working group (in January) and a group of ministers set up two years ago to look into the subject. Honour killings are not a classified crime now, and no separate data of such cases are available with the National Crime Records Bureau.
Ravikanth, Supreme Court lawyer and president of Shakti Vahini, an NGO that has campaigned against these crimes, supported the demand for a standalone law.