Honour Killing

About the menace

All forms of gender based violence, “crimes of honour” deprive women of the right to life, liberty and security of person, the right to be free from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, right to equality in the family and the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. In the broader context of patriarchal principles motivating “crimes of honour”, India is obligated as a state party to ensure that all discrimination against women in matters relating to marriage and family relations are eliminated, providing them with the same right to enter into marriage and to freely choose a spouse and to enter into marriage only with their free and full consent .This includes ensuring that informal decision making bodies operating on customary laws, such as the khap panchayat, are refrained from enforcing their dicta, and interfering with the right of women to choose their spouse.

India, as a state party to CEDAW has the legally binding obligation to “eliminate discrimination against women by any person, organization or enterprise,” as enumerated in article 2e. State parties have to take appropriate measures to eliminate prejudices and customary practices, such as “crimes of honour”, “which are based on the idea of the inferiority or the superiority of either of the sexes,” as enumerated in article 2e. Creating statutes that criminalize the different types of acts that fall within the ambit of “crimes of honour”, while essential, is certainly not adequate if there is no systematic enforcement of the statutes. Active prosecutions are one of the means to achieve the practical realization of eliminating discriminatory principles such as “crimes of honour”, in order to ensure that state parties meet their obligations to “take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women [article 2]. Taking preventative measures, such as promoting gender sensitization and initiatives on combating dated patriarchal notions, are also necessary to eliminate discrimination against women.

Court’s views

  • Amninder Kaur and another versus State of Punjab and others: Question before the Punjab and Haryana High Court was whether the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 applies or not. Court answered the question in affirmative. Read the judgment here.
  • Arumugam Servai v. State of Tamil Nadu: Hon’ble Supreme Court held that Khap-Panchayats are illegal. Read the judgment here.
  • Ashok Kumar Todi versus Kishwar Jahan: Protection required to be given to the runaway couples. The same is included in Article 21 of the Constitution of India. Read the judgment here.
  • Bhagwan Dass versus N.C.T.: Supreme Court issued guidelines/directions to treat the offence of honour killing into the category of rarest of rare cases with granting exemplary punishment for the same. Read the judgment here.
  • Lata Singh versus State of U.P.: In this landmark judgment, Hon’ble Supreme Court held that right to life includes right to marry a person of his/her own choice. Read the judgment here.
  • Manoj and Babli murder Judgment: This notorious case of honour killing came into national limelight as both husband and wife belonged to same village and they were killed. Read the judgment of Punjab and Haryana High Court in the same here.
  • Pardeep Kumar Singh v. State of Haryana: Landmark judgment regarding protection of life and liberty by Punjab and Haryana High Court. Read the judgment here.
  • Saleema and another versus State of Punjab: Punjab and Haryana High Court in this landmark case held that a minor’s eloping for marriage does not constitute an offence. Read the judgment here.

Recommendations of Law Commission