You are on page 1of 27

Honour Killing in India

Honour Killing In India


PROJECT SUBMITTED TO:
Mrs. Sonal Das
(FACULTY OF LAW OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE)

PROJECT SUBMITTED BY:


SANAT KURRE
Semester VII, Section A
ROLL NO. 126
SUBMITTED ON: 24.08.2015

HIDAYATULLAHNATIONALLAWUNIVERSITY
RAIPUR, CHHATTISGARH

Honour Killing in India

Acknowledgments
I would like to humbly present this project with the grace of the almighty to Mrs Sonal Das I
would first of all like to express my most sincere gratitude to Mrs. Sonal Das for her paramount
support and encouragement. I am thankful for being given the honour of doing this research
paper on Honour Killing In India. I am thankful to the library staff and committee members for
all the conveniences which played a major role in the completion of this paper.
Last but by far the most important, I would like to thank God for keeping me in good health and
senses to complete this project. I present this project with a humble heart.

SANAT KURRE

(SEMESTER VII, POLITICAL SCIENCE MAJOR)

Honour Killing in India

Contents
Introduction.....
History of honour killing..
Honour killing in Indian societies
Main Reasons for honour killing.
Laws presently on honour killing
Judicial precedence and cases.
Honour killing solution
Conclusion
Bibliography

Honour Killing in India

Table of Cases

Abdul Habib vs Others 1974 CrLJ 248


Ramaswami Ayyar Case (1921) 44 Mad 913
Kolavenna Vekayya Case 1955 Andhra 718
Muthuswamy v. State of Madras A.I.R. 1954 S.C.47
'Sheo Balak v. Emperor' AIR 1948 All 103 (A)
Timothy v. Simpson (1835) 4 L.J. (Ex.), 81
Kushal Rao vs The State Of Bombay 1958 AIR 22, 1958 SCR 552
K.R. Reddy v. Public Prosecutor 1976 CrLJ 1548
Mani Ram v. State of U.P 1994 Supp (2) SCC 289,292; 1994 SCC (Cri) 1242]
Amarsingh Ramjibhai Barot vs. State of Gujarat 1993 Supp (3) SCC 41
Sarbir Singh vs. State of Punjab 2005 (7) SCC 550

Introduction
An honor killing or honour killing (also called a customary killing) is the murder of a member of
a family or social group by other members, due to the belief of the perpetrators (and potentially
the wider community) that the victim has brought dishonour upon the family or community.
Honour killings are directed mostly against women and girls. Human Rights Watch defines
honour killings as the acts of violence, usually murder, committed by male family members
against female family members, who are held to have brought dishonor upon the family. A
woman can be targeted by her family for a variety of reasons, including: refusing to enter into an
arranged marriage, being the victim of sexual assault, seeking a divorce even from an abusive

Honour Killing in India


husband or (allegedly) committing adultery. The mere perception that a woman has behaved in a
way that dishonours her family is sufficient to trigger an attack on her life. The perceived
dishonor is normally the result of one of the following behaviors, or the suspicion of such
behaviors:
a. dressing in a manner unacceptable to the family or community,
b. wanting to terminate or prevent an arranged marriage or desiring to marry by own choice,
c. engaging in heterosexual sexual acts outside marriage, or even due to a non-sexual
relationship perceived as inappropriate, and
d. engaging in homosexual acts. Women and girls are killed at a much higher rate than men.
Some women who bridge social divides, publicly engage other communities, or adopt some of
the customs or the religion of an outside group may be attacked. In countries that receive
immigrants, some otherwise low-status immigrant men and boys have asserted their
dominant patriarchal status by inflicting honor killings on female family members who have
participated in public life, for example, in feminist and integration politics.
Recently, there has been a spate of honor killings in the country and this has led the government
to decide what laws should be put in place to stop this heinous crime. Also whether the Hindu
Marriage Act should be reformed or not is being debated. So what is the definition of honour
killing and what leads families to commit this heinous crime so that they can protect their family
honour. Thus an honour killing can be said as the murder of a member of a family or social group
by other members, due to the belief of the perpetrators (and potentially the wider community)
that the victim has brought dishonour upon the family or community.' Hence a murder committed
in order to save what is considered in a specific culture the honour of ones family against the
shame caused by another member of the family could be termed as the honour killing.

History of honour killing


Matthew A. Goldstein, J.D. (Arizona), has noted that honor killings were encouraged in ancient
Rome, where male family members who did not take actions against the female adulterers in
their family were "actively persecuted".

Honour Killing in India


The1 origin of honor killings and the control of women is evidenced throughout history in the
culture and tradition of many regions. The Roman law of pater familiasgave complete control to
the men of the family over both their children and wives. Under these laws, the lives of children
and wives were at the discretion of the men in their family. Ancient Roman Law also justified
honor killings by stating that women found guilty of adultery could be killed by their husbands.
Among the Ching dynasty in China, fathers and husbands had the right to kill females deemed to
have dishonoured them.
Among the Amerindian Aztecs and Incas, adultery was punishable by death. During John
Calvins control over Geneva, women found guilty of adultery were punished by being drowned
in the Rhone river.
Honour killings have a long tradition in Mediterranean Europe. According to the Honour
Related Violence - European Resource Book and Good Practice(page 234): "Honour in the
Mediterranean world is a code of conduct, a way of life and an ideal of the social order, which
defines the lives, the customs and the values of many of the peoples in the Mediterranean moral.
According to the UN in 2002:
The2 report of the Special Rapporteur... concerning cultural practices in the family that are
violent towards women (E/CN.4/2002/83), indicated that honour killings had been reported
in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Pakistan, the Syrian Arab Republic, Turkey, Yemen, and
other Mediterraneanand Persian Gulf countries, and that they had also taken place in western
countries such as France, Germany and the United Kingdom, within migrant communities.
In addition, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights gathered reports from several
countries and considering only the countries that submitted reports it was shown that honor
killings
have
occurred
in Bangladesh, Great
Britain, Brazil, Ecuador, Egypt, India, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Pakistan, Morocco, Sweden, Turkey,
and Uganda.
According to Widney Brown, advocacy director for Human Rights Watch, the practice of honor
killing "goes across cultures and across religions.
1 "Ethics: Honour Crimes". BBC. 1 January 1970. Retrieved 23 December 2013

2 Damien McElroy (31 March 2008). "Saudi woman killed for chatting on Facebook". London: The Daily
Telegraph. Retrieved 27 September 2008

Honour Killing in India

Honour killing in Indian societies


Honor killings have been reported in northern regions of India, mainly in the Indian states
of Punjab, Rajasthan,Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, as a result of people marrying without their
family's acceptance, and sometimes for marrying outside their caste or religion. In contrast,
honor killings are rare to non-existent in South India and the western Indian states
of Maharashtra and Gujarat. In some other parts of India, notably West Bengal, honor killings
completely ceased about a century ago, largely due to the activism and influence
of reformists such asVivekananda, Ramakrishna, Vidyasagar and Raja Ram Mohan Roy.
Haryana is notorious for incidents of honor killings, mainly in the upper caste of society, among
rajputs and jaats. Honor killings have been described as "chillingly common in villages of
Haryana dominated by the lawless 'khap panchayats' (caste councils of village elders)". In a
landmark judgment in March 2010, Karnaldistrict court ordered the execution of five
perpetrators of an honor killing in Kaithal, and imprisoning for life the khap (local caste-based
council) chief who ordered the killings of Manoj Banwala (23) and Babli (19), a man and woman
of the same clan who eloped and married in June 2007. Despite having been given police
protection on court orders, they were kidnapped; their mutilated bodies were found a week later
in an irrigation canal. In 2013, a young couple who were planning to marry were murdered in
Garnauthi village, Haryana, due to having a love affair. The woman, Nidhi, was beaten to death
and the man, Dharmender, was dismembered alive. People in the village and neighbouring
villages approved of the killings.
3

The Indian state of Punjab also has a large number of honor killings. According to data
compiled by the Punjab Police, 34 honor killings were reported in the state between 2008 and
2010: 10 in 2008, 20 in 2009, and four in 2010. Bhagalpur in the eastern Indian state of Bihar has
also been notorious for honor killings. Recent cases include a 16-year-old girl, Imrana,
from Bhojpur who was set on fire inside her house in a case of what the police called 'moral
vigilantism'. The victim had screamed for help for about 20 minutes before neighbours arrived,
only to find her smouldering body. She was admitted to a local hospital, where she later died
from her injuries. In May 2008, Jayvirsingh Bhadodiya shot his daughter Vandana Bhadodiya
and struck her on the head with an axe. Honor killings occur even inDelhi.
4

Honor killings take place in Rajasthan, too. In June 2012, a man chopped off his 20-year-old
daughter's head with a sword in Rajasthan after learning that she was dating men. According to
33Indian village proud after double "honour killing". Reuters. 16 May 2008

Honour Killing in India


police officer, "Omkar Singh told the police that his daughter Manju had relations with several
men. He had asked her to mend her ways several times in the past. However, she did not pay
heed. Out of pure rage, he chopped off her head with the sword."
In 1990 the National Commission for Women set up a statutory body in order to address the
issues of honor killings among some ethnic groups in North India. This body
reviewed constitutional, legal and other provisions as well as challenges women face. The
NCW's activism has contributed significantly towards the reduction of honor killings in rural
areas of North India.[206] According to Pakistani activists Hina Jilani and Eman M. Ahmed, Indian
women are considerably better protected against honor killings by Indian law and government
than Pakistani women, and they have suggested that governments of countries affected by honor
killings use Indian law as a model in order to prevent honor killings in their respective societies.
In June 2010, scrutinizing the increasing number of honor killings, the Supreme Court of
India demanded responses about honor killing prevention from the federal government and the
state governments of Punjab, Haryana, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Himachal
Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
Alarmed by the rise of honor killings, the Government planned to bring a bill in the Monsoon
Session of Parliament July 2010 to provide for deterrent punishment for 'honor' killings

4 "Honour Killings in India". Daily Life in India. 16 June 2010. Retrieved3 September 2010.

Honour Killing in India


Main reasons for honour killing
The main reason for commitment of an honour killing is belief that any member of family had
brought dishonour to the family. The dishonour can be of different types for different families.
The perceived dishonour is normally the result of the following behaviours, or the suspicion of
such behaviours, which are dress codes unacceptable to the family/community; or wanting to
terminate or prevent an arranged marriage or desiring to marry by own choice; or engaging in
certain sexual acts, including those with the opposite or same sex, etc.
Also5 the most obvious reason for this practice to continue in India is because of the fact that the
caste system continues to be at its rigid best and also because people from the rural areas refuse
to change their attitude to marriage. Also in our country the society is mainly the patriarchal.
Men are expected to enforce such norms and traditions and protect family and male honour from
shame. Women are expected to conduct themselves honourably. This understanding of the notion
gives legitimacy to all forms of social regulation of womens behaviour and to violence
committed against them.

So far, there is no specific law to deal with honour killings. The murders come under the general
categories of homicide or manslaughter. Sometimes the honour killings are also done by a mob
and so when a mob has carried out such attacks, it becomes difficult to pinpoint a culprit. The
collection of evidence becomes tricky and eyewitnesses are never forthcoming. But Honour
Killings are against International Law on Human Rights and against United Nation agendas. But
still even though we dont have any law to deal with it specifically in India but we have judicial
precedence over it. There are also some bills which are in the latent stage against the honour
killings, which are planned to be introduced in the parliament sooner.
6

Some other causes of Honour Killing:


Allegation of pre-marital or extra-marital sex.
Refusal for an arranged marriage.
Inter-caste or inter-religious marriage.
Pregnancy not related with legally married husband.
Homosexuality.
Live-in-relationship.
5
6

Honour Killing in India

Reasons For Increasing Incidents Of Honour Killings : Religionalization of laws such Hindu
personal law,muslim personal law,christan personal law etc.Womens are forced to consider
every aspect of their life from the perspective of their "honour "as a quality which is felt to
reflect both the entirety of their social worth and reputations of male members of their family.
male reputation is depend upon female "honour". female "honour" is passive in nature cantering
on qualities such as subordinacy , modesty ,and patience, whereas male "honour" is active and
dynamic, centring on qualities such as self-assertion, dominance and social status. once female
honour is lost through any act which is considered dishonouring in her society, there is no way it
can be regained. Other members of her family may face pressure to take violent action which
will restore their position in society.
Law presently on honour killing
So far, there is no specific law to deal with honour killings. The murders come under the general
categories of homicide or manslaughter. Sometimes the honour killings arc also done by a mob
and so when a mob has carried out such attacks, it becomes difficult to pinpoint a culprit. The
collection of evidence becomes tricky and eyewitnesses arc never forthcoming. But Honour
Killings are against International Law on Human Rights and against United Nation agendas. But
still even though we dont have any law to deal with it specifically in India but we have judicial
precedence over it. There arc also some bills which are in the latent stage against the honour
killings, which are planned to be introduced in the parliament sooner. Let us discuss them under
the following heads.
International laws
"Honour killings" are a recognized form of violence against women in international human rights
law because they violate women's rights to life and security of the person. International law
obligates states to protect women from gender-based violence, including by family members, and
to disqualify "honour" as a legal defence for acts of violence against women. 4. Honour killings
are an extreme and brutal abuse of human rights, violating the most basic of human rightsthe
right to lifeas well as every other article in the International Convention on Human Rights
(1948). The presence of laws that treat honour killings leniently is also a brazen disregard of the
International Convention of Civil and Political Rights (1966), protecting individuals against the
use of the death penalty except for the most serious of crimes. Honour killings also violate the
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (1979).
Article1

of

theConvention

states

10

that

Honour Killing in India


For the present Convention, the term discrimination against women shall mean any
distinction, exclusion, or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or
purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women,
irrespective of their marital status, on the basis of equality of men and women, of human
rights and fundamental freedoms in political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other
field.
Article 2 states that States Parties condemn discrimination against women in all its forms, agree
to pursue by all appropriate means and without delay

Judicial precedence in india

Normally the cases of honour killings were admitted inside the courts in India, in the forms of
homicide or manslaughter. But after seeing the nature and the facts of the killings, courts were
also used to follow the flimsy, so-called honour of the family in the name of which the heinous
crime was done and the perpetrators usually were rescued. This we can observe from the
judgement of Supreme Court, in which Justice VS Sirpurkar and Justice Deepak Verma said it
wasnt a rarest of rare case. The murders were the outcome of a social issue like a marriage with
a person of so-called lower caste. Such killings do not fall in the category of the rare of the rarest
as the family of the girl has to face lot of taunts and humiliation in the society for the acts of the
girl. However, time has come when we have to consider these social issues relevant while
considering death sentence in such circumstances, they said. In other words, the court classified
the shameful caste-based honour killings as different from other homicides in which the
maximum punishment of death can be awarded. In this case the brother of the girl, who belonged
to Uttar Pradesh, had killed five members including his brother-in-law who was a Scheduled
Caste.
This was the earlier tradition, but nowadays from the various judgements of the courts we can
say that now the honour killings are not termed differently. Courts through their judgements
had reiterated that killing anyone even in the name of honour is the violation of the constitution
of India and anyone going contrary to the constitution will be punished. This we can see from the
following cases.
In a landmark judgment, in March 2010, the Karnal District Court ordered the execution of the
five perpetrators in an honour killing case of Manoj & Babli, while giving a life sentence to the
khap (local caste-based council) head who ordered the killings of Manoj Banwala (23) and Babli
(19), two members of the same clan who eloped and married in June 2007 and later their
mutilated bodies were found a week later from an irrigation canal. In her verdict, district judge

11

Honour Killing in India


Vani Gopal Sharma stated, "This court has gone through sleepless nights and tried to put itself in
the shoes of the offenders .Khap panchayats have functioned contrary to the constitution,
ridiculed it and have become a law unto themselves. The case was both the first court
judgement convicting khap panchayats and the first capital punishment verdict in an honour
killing case in India. The Indian media and legal experts hailed it as a "landmark judgement".
Also, few honour killing cases go to court, and this is the first case in which the groom's family
in an honour killing filed the case.
Also on August, 2010 the Supreme Court in a case of State of U.P. v. Krishna master & Ors~
awardcd life sentence to three persons who caused the death of six persons of a family in a case
of honour killing at a village in Uttar Pradesh in 1991. A Bench of Justices H.S. Bedi and J.M.
Panchal reversed the order of acquittal passed by the Allahabad High Court after the trial court
handed them the death sentence. The Bench said: There is no manner of doubt that killing six
persons and wiping out almost the whole family on the flimsy ground of saving the honour of the
family would fall within the rarest of rare cases and, therefore, the trial court was perfectly
justified in imposing the capital punishment on the respondents.
Also a bench of Supreme Court headed by Justice Markandey Katju in the case of Lata Sinsh Vs
State of Uttar Pradesh and others"1 had said, "Honour killings are nothing but barbaric cold
blooded murder and no honour is involved in such killings." The Supreme Court while dropping
all criminal proceedings against Singh's husband and her in-laws had gone to the extent of
observing that "inter-caste and inter-religious marriages should be encouraged to strengthen the
social fabric of society.
Recently on June 22, 2010 the Supreme Court had issued notice to the Central Government and
nine slates in the face of rising Honour Killings across the country on the Public Interest
Litigation filed by Shakti Vahini. The court wants to know what steps arc being taken to curb
such violence.7
Thus we can see that in lack of any specific law on Honour killing the judgements of the cases
arc normally conflicting. But now after the landmark judgements of Supreme Court cited above
we can normally presume that where there is rule of law, law does not rescue any person to kill
anyone in the name of honour of his family or clan.
Major Cases in india
Nitish Katara a business executive and the son of an IAS officer, was murdered on 17 February
2002, by Vikas Yadav, the son of Uttar Pradesh politician DP Yadav. Nitish had been in a
7on 2nd December, 2010.

12

Honour Killing in India


relationship with DP Yadav's daughter Bharti Yadav for a long time and the girl's family did not
approve of the relationship.
Nitish's murder took place on the night of the wedding of a friend who was known to both him
and Bharti. Katara's body was found on a highway. He had been battered to death with a
hammer, following which diesel was poured on him and he was set on fire. The murder was
committed by Vikas (Bharti's real brother) and Vishal Yadav (Bharti's cousin brother), and
Sukhdev Pehalwan (a hired contract killer).
All three have now been sentenced to life terms for abducting and killing Katara.
During the court case, which dragged on for years, the Yadav family tried to ensure that Bharti
was not called in as a witness. While in court, Bharti had repeatedly denied that she was in a
relationship with Nitish.
However in this DNA report, Nitish's mother Neelam who has been fighting the case for her son,
told the paper, "The night Nitish disappeared, Bharti called, pleading me to go to the police,
adding that maybe her brothers Vikas and Vishal had taken Nitish to Punjab. I went to the
police. There was no trace of Nitish and there never would be. Never."
Neelam Katara and the prosecution have filed appeals seeking death penalty for the murderers.

2. Bhagwan Das Vs state of Delhi 2011


The prosecution case is that the appellant was very annoyed with his daughter, who had left her
husband Raju and was living in an incestuous relationship with her uncle, Sriniwas. This
infuriated the appellant as he thought this conduct of his daughter Seema had dishonoured his
family, and hence he strangulated her with an electric wire. The trial court convicted the
appellant and this judgment was upheld by the High Court.

3. Lata Singh vs State of U.P.


petition under Article 32 of the Constitution of India has been filed with a prayer for issuing a
writ of certiorari and /or mandamus for quashing the Sessions Trial No. 1201 of 2001
under sections 366 and 368 of the Indian Penal Code arising out of FIR No. 336 of 2000
registered at Police Station Sarojini Nagar, Lucknow and pending in the Fast Track Court V,
Lucknow.

13

Honour Killing in India


The petitioner is a young woman now aged about 27 years who is a graduate and at the relevant
time was pursuing her Masters course in Hindi in the Lucknow University. Due to the sudden
death of her parents she started living with her brother Ajay Pratap Singh at LDA Colony,
Kanpur Road, Lucknow, where she did her intermediate in 1997 and graduation in 2000.
It is alleged by the petitioner that on 2.11.2000 she left her brother's house of her own free will
and got married at Arya Samaj Mandir, Delhi to one Bramha Nand Gupta who has business in
Delhi and other places and they have a child out of this wedlock.
Thereafter on 4.11.2000, the petitioner's brother lodged a missing person report at Sarojini Nagar
Police Station, Lucknow and consequently the police arrested two sisters of the petitioner's
husband along with the husband of one of the sisters and the cousin of the petitioner's husband.
The persons arrested were Mamta Gupta, Sangita Gupta (sisters of Brahma Nand Gupta), as well
as Rakesh Gupta (husband of Mamta Gupta) and Kallu Gupta cousin of the petitioner's husband.
Mamta was in jail with her one month old child.
In the circumstances, the writ petition is allowed. The proceedings in Sessions Trial No.
1201/2001 titled State of U.P. vs. Sangita Gupta & Ors. arising out of FIR No. 336/2000
registered at Police Station Sarojini Nagar, Lucknow and pending in the Fast Track Court V,
Lucknow are quashed.
Manoj-Babli Case
The Manoj-Babli honour killing case was the honour killing of Indian newlyweds Manoj
Banwala and Babli in June 2007 and the successive court case which historically convicted
defendants for an honour killing. The individuals involved in the murder included relatives of
Babli (Grandfather Gangaraj who is said to have been a Khap leader, Brother, Maternal and
Paternal uncle and two cousins). Relatives of Manoj, specially his mother defended the
relationship.
The killing was ordered by a khap panchayat (khap), a religious caste-based council among Jatts,
in their Karora village in Kaithal district, Haryana.
The khap passed a decree prohibiting marriage against societal norms. Such caste-based councils
are common in the inner regions of several Indian states, including Haryana, Punjab,
western Uttar Pradesh, and parts of Rajasthan, and have been operating with government
approval for years. In any event, the state government expressed no concern about the ruling of
the khap panchayat.
14

Honour Killing in India


The Khap panchayat's ruling was based on the assumption that Manoj and Babli belonged to the
Banwala gotra, a Jat community, 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.
In March 2010 a Karnal district court sentenced the five perpetrators to be executed, the first
time an Indian court had done so in an honour killing case. The khap head who ordered but did
not take part in the killings received a life sentence, and the driver involved in the abduction a
seven-year prison term. According to Home Minister P. Chidambaram, the UPA-led central
government was to propose an amendment to the Indian Penal Code (IPC) in response to the
deaths of Manoj and Babli, making honour killings a "distinct offense.
Nirupama Pathak murder of 2010:
In May 2010, Nirupama Pathak, who was working as journalist with a business daily in Delhi,
was murdered by her family in Jharkhand because she was in a relationship with a man from a
lower caste.
According to this PTI report, Nirupama was dating Priyabhanshu Ranjan a colleague and friend
from her Indian Institute of Mass Communication in New Delhi and had planned to marry him in
an Arya Samaj mandir.
Nirupama was found dead on 29 April in her parents' house in Tilaya in Koderma district in
Jharkhand under mysterious circumstances. Her family then filed a case of rape and abetment to
suicide against Priyabhanshu which was later found to be false.
Priyabhanshu's father Ramashankar Kanth had told PTI then, "My son is innocent. He is no no
way involved in the case. My son had informed me on the day Nirupama died that he received an
SMS from Nirupama that her mother, father and brother have bolted her inside a bathroom at
their house."
While her mother called it a case of suicide, a post-mortem revealed that the journalist was
smothered to death and that she was 10-12 weeks pregnant at the time of her murder. Nirupama's

15

Honour Killing in India


mother was arrested but later the court set her free as the police found a suicide note signed by
Nirupama. In 2012, her boyfriend surrendered to the police in a case of abetment of suicide.
Asha Saini murder case of 2010:
In June 2010, Delhi witnessed a brutal honour killing in Swarup Nagar in North-east part of the
city, when 19-year-old Asha Saini and her boyfriend Yogesh, 20, were tortured, electrocuted and
beaten to death by the girl's family.
As this Rediff report recounts, "the girl's family had disapproved of Asha's relationship with
Yogesh, a driver, and had asked the boy to back off."
The couple was tortured in a flat owned by the girl's uncle Omprakash and even neighbours who
heard the couple wailing for hours and begging for help but didn't step in to help. Allegedly the
family threatened the neighbours and told them to "mind their own business," says the report.
No one called the police to help the couple. "From 2 am onwards I could hear the boy wailing.
The girl was pleading for his life. I could sense something was fishy but couldn't communicate
with anyone as I had no access to a telephone at that hour," one neighbour Umesh told Rediff.
While the family later claimed they killed the couple in a fit of rage as they had caught them in a
compromising position, the boy's sister Renu told Rediff, "It was a planned conspiracy to kill my
brother. I saw the girl's mother waiting for my brother outside our Gokulpur apartment. Before
that, I heard Asha pestering him to meet her."
Monica and Kuldeep Murder of 2010:
Another honour killing hit the headlines in Delhi in June 2010 when a couple, Monica and
Kuldeep, along with Monica's sister Shobha were killed by their family members.
Monica had married Kuldeep, who was a Rajput boy, and their families did not approve of the
alliance. Both of them belonged to the Wazipur village of Delhi. Shobha on the other hand was

16

Honour Killing in India


involved in a relationship with a boy belonging to another caste and had reportedly helped her
sister elope.
According to this IBN-Live report, the three accused - Ankit Chaudary, Mandeep Nagar and
Nakul Khari- were on the run after committing the triple murders and when caught by the police,
had claimed that "there was a lot of pressure on them and that's why they did this (murder)."
The three were allegedly killed for bringing dishonour to their families by marrying outside their
community, adds the report.
At the time of the murder, the family had shockingly justified the killing and Dharamveer
Nagar the uncle of Mandeep and co-accused Ankit, had said that the killings were necessary
to uphold the familys honour. Ankit was Monica's brother, while Mandeep was Shobha's brother.
For the killers, it was evident that they didn't see anything wrong with the murders. Ankit was
quoted as saying in the IBN-Live report, "We have not done anything? We are being framed.
Don't know why?"
Deepti Chhikara murder of 2012:
In June 2012, reports came out that a young woman Deepti Chhikara was killed, and her body
was then dumped in Uttarakhand. The girl, who was a school teacher at an MCD school, was
strangled to death by her mother Birmati and brother Mohit, and later her uncle Amit helped the
duo in disposing of the body.
As this Hindu report at the time pointed out, "the mother-son duo first beat her up and Mohit
later strangulated her to death. Birmati held Deepti by her legs, while Mohit strangulated her."
Deepti wanted to marry one Lalit Vats, but her family was opposed to the match as he was from a
different caste. Deepti was allegedly killed in April but her family didn't register any complaint.
It was Lalit who alerted the police to the fact that Deepti had been missing since she went to her
maternal home.

17

Honour Killing in India


Honour killing solution
Coomaraswamy recommended the development of national penal, civil and administrative
sanctions to punish violence in the family. Other interventions include health and awarenessraising programmes, and adoption of appropriate education measures to modify social and
cultural behaviours that sanction violence against women. Womens right must be asserted in a
manner which allows women to be full participants in the communities they choose. There is a
need to support women working within their communities at all levels, particularly those who are
at the forefront of efforts to combat violence and struggle for womens rights. Where
international attention and leverage are rooted in culturally sensitive strategies and locally
supported, they can give strong underpinning to our situation-specific approaches and
interventions on the ground. It is abundantly clear that a narrowly legal approach, particularly
one focusing on state law and state legal systems as a stand-alone strategy unaccompanied by
broader and deeper initiatives and understandings, is unlikely to change practice or to combat
crimes of honour effectively (Welchman & Hossain, 2006). In this regard we must recognize
the limitations inherent in the fact that our orientation towards the circumscribed disciplines or
sub-disciplines remains strong (Dobash & Dobash, 1998:2). In particular, we look to the
contribution of anthropologists in seeking to destabilize assumptions about honour and shame,
sexuality, class, and the gendering process in specific contexts (Lindisfarne, 1993; Joseph, 1999).
The most viable solution that seems workable across cultures is the peaceful method of
dialogue/ discourse as has been propagated by Sen (2005) and Habermas in the recent years.
The term community discourse is used throughout to denote discussion of every aspect of
crimes of honour within the local communities where they occur. The means include radio and
television programmes in local languages, Friday sermons and discussions at local mosques,
songs, formal and informal education in school, sports and youth clubs, and womens or other
community associations (An-Naim, 2006). It is not enough to condemn the crimes without
developing specific strategies to prevent their occurrence, and to deal with perpetrators and their
supporters. Transforming family and community attitudes towards these crimes by engaging in
an internal discourse would contribute to their elimination by addressing the underlying causes in
addition to encouraging state officials and institutions to hold individual perpetrators and their
supporters accountable for their action. Community discourse against crimes of honour can be an
effective means of denying them support. At another level, community discourse helps generate
and sustain the political will to allocate resources and implement policies for combating crimes
of honour to punish perpetrators, and to deny them any moral or material benefit from their
crimes. A more fundamental rationale for the proposed approach, indeed its raison detre (the

18

Honour Killing in India


most important reason), I would suggest, is respect for the moral autonomy of individuals and
families, and the self determination of their communities. It is necessary to gain their cooperation and support through an internal discourse within the community around cultural norms
and institutions associated with these crimes. The question is one of long-term strategy in
addition to, not instead of all that can be done immediately. Shalhoub-Kevorkian (2000) points to
the interrelation between sexism, crimes against women, masculine-patriarchal gender biases,
and the socio-political and cultural context of a given society (see Smart, 1995). And unless such
reasons for this kind of male dominance or survival of the tribal social structure is not destroyed
no solution can give lasting results. Even if one maintains that these crimes are so serious that an
exclusively coercive approach to their prevention and punishment is justified, there is still the
question of who is going to enforce their prohibition, and how. After all, the same local elite and
state officials who are supposed to devise and implement the necessary measures are themselves
a product of the same culture and context that produce the crimes. These critical actors are
politically responsive to the same communities, even if they are not formally accountable to
them in a democratic manner. As clearly illustrated by cases from Turkey with regard to honour
killings the decision to kill the woman is taken in a family meeting which also designates a
young man within the family, usually a brother or cousin of the victim, to carry out the crime. By
their very nature and alleged rationale, these crimes arise out of a collective deliberate decision
that is to be executed in public, or at least publicized for the purported purpose to be achieved.
What does this collective, deliberate and public nature of the crime mean for the responsibility of
the family and the community at large? Some additional questions arising out of the nature and
context of crimes of honour to be asked are: Whose honour is at issue? Why are the women
killed in the name of protecting it? Do these crimes constitute human rights violation? What
practical difference can such a characterization make?

It is counterproductive to suggest that the family and community have no right to regulate
sexuality at all. Even the appearance of suggesting that will undermine the credibility of any
effort to combat crimes of honour, thereby rendering the women of communities implicated in
such practices even more vulnerable to violence in the name of protecting the honour than they
are at present. Welchman and Hossain (2006) state, that the role of religious rightpolitical
groupings that invoke religion and religious traditions as justifications for their activities,
including those which seek to marginalize or obliterate the rights of women or minorities is key
here, as well as the role of those who challenge the validity of such positions. Hence by the use

19

Honour Killing in India


of the community discourse method if even some elements of the religious right can be
persuaded not to change their ways altogether but just not to incite/incur honour crimes, that can
turn out to be a great step towards eliminating this menace from the society. An-Naim (2006)
argues that one can object to crimes of honour from a human rights perspective because they are
excessively violent and discriminatory against women, without necessarily arguing that the
communitys view of sexual propriety is itself objectionable from a human rights perspective.
Feminist activists and non governmental organizations (NGOs) have succeeded in opening
shelters for battered women, research centres, and organizations that can lobby for legislative
reforms and the adoption of administrative measures to protect the rights of women, with some
considerable recent successes. A community discourse approach is necessary, as a means of
transforming family and community attitudes about these crimes, as well as prompting and
supporting state officials and institutions to combat them more effectively. For example, such an
internal discourse within the community about crimes of honour is critical for the early
socialization of children against cultural values and condone, even reward, crimes of honour
and for transforming the institutional culture and priorities of state officials concerned with
various aspects of these crimes. Including a community discourse component is also required
out of respect for the moral autonomy of individuals and families and the self-determination of
their communities. Like all principles, the concept of universal human rights is truly tested only
when faced with a strong challenge, like the temptation to violate the human rights of
perpetrators of violations in the name of protecting the human rights of their victims. No strategy
for combating crimes of honour can be implemented in practice, and sustained over time,
without the consent and cooperation of the communities in question. The basic prevailing model
of human rights advocacy can be described as mobilising shame against offending governments
by carefully monitoring and publicizing human rights violations in the hope of generating
pressure on those governments to respect and protect rights. This scenario assumes that there are
constituencies that are ready and able to act on the information and with sufficient power actually
to succeed in influencing the conduct of offending governments. Due to the realities of offending
governments in developing countries and civil society organizations that are either unable to
confront their own government or lacking the power to influence its policies, there arises serious
doubts over the sustainability of this tactic. The mounting limitations and general
unpredictability and unreliability of the present model of international advocacy clearly indicate,
in my view, the need to invest in developing and supporting local constituencies for combating
crimes of honour, instead of relying on foreign pressure. The only problem with this over
simple discourse method is that one leaves unchallenged those elements of traditional sexual
ethics that create a climate of hyper-attention to womens bodies and behaviour.

20

Honour Killing in India


In the Indian scenario, the constitution speaks about the principles of Equality, Fraternity,
Liberty and these principals are also part of state policy. But where their presence is most felt is
the social fabric. Honour killings are homicide and murder which are serious crimes under the
Indian Penal Code (IPC). It also amounts to the violation of the rights ensued under Articles 14,
15(1), 15(3), 19, 21 and 39(f) of the Constitution of India. The Indian example provides for the
reasons for the persistent problem despite legal actions when this issue tends to put the blame on
the legislators of the world. When the society fosters such actions even though the law may be in
opposition, when John Austins political sovereign is located in the social norms, honour killing
is justified by the principals of natural law theories. The traditionalists argue that modernization
need not mean wholesale Westernization and insist that traditional practices can be continued in
modern India keeping the institution of family intact. The balance between individual freedom
and traditional obligations, under such chauvinism, seems impossible to attain. Certain traditions
must end: individuals must be free to make their own choices when it comes to marriage, and the
rule of law must take precedence over local customs. Critics do not necessarily see honour
killings as 'traditional' in themselves, but rather as an indication that traditional practices simply
can't coexist with modern freedom, since those practicing them do not respect individual liberty.
Some sociologists see honour killings as a frightened reaction to rapid social change in India. In
a landmark judgment, in March 2010, Karnal District Court ordered the execution of the five
perpetrators in an honour killing case, while giving a life sentence to the khap (local caste-based
council) head who ordered the killings of Manoj Banwala (23 years) and Babli (19 years). In
June 2007, Manoj and Babli - members of the same clan - eloped and got married. Despite being
given police protection on Court orders, they were kidnapped; their mutilated bodies were found
a week later from an irrigation canal (BBC, 2010). In June 2010, scrutinizing the increasing
number of honour killings, the Supreme Court of India issued notices to the Central Government
and six states including Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan, to take preventive
measures against the social evil. Ghurye (1950) puts the burden of the rampant caste system in
India on the strict following of endogamy, which has prevented any inter-mixing of castes. As
Thapar (1992,) states, India portrays a major lineage society and all can identify themselves to
some lineage. Hence these castes still identify themselves as unique irrespective of a puritypopulation hierarchy (Blunt, 1960). The entire structure of caste and its reproduction, as a
system, was contingent upon carefully controlled endogamous marriages within certain bounded
groups. Reproduction everywhere has historically been a social rather than an individual act, but
it is also inextricably linked to the political economy of communities and the ways these
communities organize and reproduce themselves as identifiable communities. Activists say
despite growing modernization or perhaps, because of it the number of honour killings has

21

Honour Killing in India


been rising steadily in the last few years, particularly in some northern and central Indian states,
where village elders often order such killings. The concept of honour in punishing the defilers
is essentially a means of maintaining the maternal structures of social power and social
dominance. Love marriages present a clear threat to this intricate web of social, maternal and
cultural factors requiring specific marriage structures. Once love or choice, is conceded,
reining in the choice to suitable partners from within an acceptable circle becomes difficult
(Chakravarti, 2006). Elopement thus provides an avenue to realize the love or choice marriage
that families actually prevent or are perceived as preventing. However, elopements have also
provided the space for development of the criminality of marriage in India (Chakravarti, 2006).
In the light of such incidences the proposed law called The Endangerment of Life and Liberty
(Protection, Prosecution and other measures) Act, 2011, proposes to put enhanced penal
sanctions against outraging the modesty of women. It declares a public meeting as unlawful
assembly if done to discuss a marriage matter of a couple who have married by choice, removes
the requirement of notice under the Special Marriage Act, holds the members of the assembly as
liable (with the burden of proving the case otherwise on them), and holds boycott and such other
methods as illegal. This is a welcome step in India as we could see many instances of gross
human rights violations in the name of honour. In a bizarre duality, women are viewed on the
one hand as fragile creatures who need protection and on the other as evil witches from whom
the society needs protection. The vulnerability of women around the world to this type of
violence will only be reduced when these patriarchal mindsets are challenged and effectively
confronted. Research from around the world points to the fact that violence against women can
only be combated if there is a healthy partnership between womens groups and the state
apparatus. While womens groups must protect their independence, on certain issues they have to
work effectively with the criminal justice system, joining forces to protect the rights of women
victims. State authorities frequently ignore their obligation to prosecute honour killings. They
should be viewed as "co-conspirators" in such crimes, and held accountable by organizations
such as the United Nations.

The following recommendations will go a long way to the

elimination of such crimes: A combined external and domestic political struggle that makes
honour crime and unfair subsequent legal treatment of women a shame on the nation
(Nadelmann, 1990, p. 480; Weldon, 2006); Placing serious penal sanctions against such crimes,
taking administrative measures to prevent the crime, and ensure conviction; Active police, local
government and the entire government apparatus committed towards this goal; Imparting
education that shuns the violence against women, de-objectifies them and recognizes the Kantian
thought of the moral autonomy of the people at large, especially people from rural areas;
Active collaborative participation of civil society and international bodies relating to

22

Honour Killing in India


women.empowerment, to enhance a dialogue and to conduct community hegemonic discourse;
Reaching out to women of all ages and from all walks of life, to make them realize that they are
equal to men; Persuading elements of the religious right to shun at least the honour crimes if
not moral policing; and Democratic setup that provides a ground for popular changes. Honour
crimes are outcomes of the social control mechanism that operates as a social threat framework
justified on the basis of social customs and traditions, preventing individuals from exercising
choice or having any moral autonomy. These customs are part of the popular belief and thinking
pattern and it is a Herculean task to mark an end to this kind of crime which can only be done
through a substantial change in the popular
thinking. Change, like 8always, will find resistance not so much by any kind of forces to be
thoughtful, but by the darkness of ignorance which has its own comfort that it gives to the people
living in them and which makes any enlightenment so hard to bring and any change so hard to
occur. As Poet Shelly has said, When winter comes can spring be far behind and so the winds
have started to change directions. Empirical evidence needs to be gathered and concrete steps
need to be taken to ensure the elimination of honour crimes.

Bill proposed in the Parliament


As we all know that we dont have any codified law on honour killing. But alarmed by the rise
of honour killings, the Government is planning to bring a bill in the session of Parliament (2010)
to provide for deterrent punishment for honour killings.9 Chidambaram asserted, "The vilest
crimes are committed in the name of defending the honour of the family or women. Whoever is
the cause of the crime, an individual or a collective, must be punished. My duty is to ensure that
laws adopted by Parliament are obeyed and enforced. Once the law is made, it must be enforced.
So the drafters of the proposed bill intend to add a clause to Section 300 of the Indian Penal
Code, 1862. Section 300 deals with the crime of murder, the maximum punishment for which is
8 Anand Kirti, Prateek Kumar and Rachana Yadav - The Face of Honour Based Crimes: Global Concerns and Solutions
9

23

Honour Killing in India


death and/or a fine. It also wants to amend the Indian Evidence Act and the Special.
Marriages Act, 1954, which would do away with the provision for the mandatory 30 days notice
period for marriages intended to be solemnized under this Act. The amendment in Special
Marriage Act, 1954 is necessary because 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 and incidence of killing in name ofhonour may happen. So steps need to be taken to
simplify the registration process by amendment. The new bill is also expected to bring in a
definition of such honour killings so that it will be treated as special crime and will ensure clarity
for the law enforcement agencies.
Law ought to be
As we have seen that the government is going to amend the Indian Penal Code, 1862, for the
honour killing. But if we watch closely our Constitution and Indian Penal Code, 1862, we can
sec that they arc in itself sufficient to combat with the honour killing. As we already know that
honour killing are not so different from the homicide; so we have already the following
sections of Indian Penal Code, 1862, to punish the perpetrators behind the honour killings.
Those can be mentioned as follows: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.
Section 307: Penalizes attempt to murder with imprisonment for up to 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.
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.
Also along with that the perpetrators in honour killing can be punished under the various
articles of Constitution of India. We can see that the honour killings are the violation of the

24

Honour Killing in India


following constitutional provisions like articles 1410, 15 (l)11 & (3)12, and 2113 of the Constitution
of India. Honour killing violates the women right to live, right to move freely, right to equality
and right to security. Hence the honour killings can also be combated with the constitutional
provisions too.
But to make our law more strong on the issue of honour killing an important amendment in the
Section 300 of Indian Penal Code, 1862, must be done by adding a new definition of Murder
in the form of Honour Killing. This amendment will make it easier for the judges to classify
the honour killing cases and will ease them in deciding the matters according to the above
mentioned sections and articles. Making the crime of honour killing a separate offence would
help bring more clarity for law enforcement agencies.
Along with that the system of joint liability must be introduced in the case of honour killing.
Normally there arc groups involved who firstly orders for killings in the name of honour (for
e.g. Khap Panchayats) and secondly the execution of it is taken by other persons. So by
introduction of the joint liability system both (i.e. person giving orders & executers) will be
equally liable and this will be efficient to reduce the Honour killing. Also we can seek some
amendments in the sections of Indian Evidence Act, 1872, by which the burden of proof can be
transferred over the family members over whom the guilt of Honour Killing had been bestowed
on. By this amendment it will be quiet easier to punish those who commit crime in the name of
honour.

10The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.
11The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of
them.
12Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making any special provision for women and children.
13No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.

25

Honour Killing in India

Conclusion
As already declared by the honorable court that there is nothing honorable in honor killing.
Moreover this is the direct violation of human rights of a person who by virtue of being a human
have the basic birth right of right to live. And in cases of honor killings violation of the right by
the very family member and in most cases by the father or by the real brother only because of
they don't allow their daughter or female member to marry according to her will. This is the
offence of murder by the members of family and direct violation of fundamental human rights.
Honor killings have become commonplace in many parts of the country, particularly in
Haryana, western U.P., and Rajasthan. Often young couples who fall in love have to seek shelter
in the police lines or protection homes, to avoid the wrath of kangaroo courts. We have held in
Lata Singhs case(26(1) that there is nothing honourable in honour killings, and they are
nothing but barbaric and brutal murders by bigoted, persons with feudal minds. In our opinion
honour killings, for whatever reason, come within the category of rarest of rare cases deserving
death punishment. It is time to stamp out these barbaric, feudal practices which are a slur on our
26

Honour Killing in India


nation. This is necessary as a deterrent for such outrageous, uncivilized behavior. All persons
who are planning to perpetrate honour killings should know that the gallows await them.
Honour killing is done for saving the honour of the family. But there is no such honour in killing
any person. Religion and culture cannot and must not be invoked as excuse for the killing of
women, because religion and the laws which derive from it arc always subjective interpretations.
No culture has the right to kill and harm women based on their perceptions of morality or
honour. The freedom of belief docs not mean freedom to kill.Everyone has right to life with full
dignity and equality. Hence active laws arc the only antidote to such dishonourable practices.

27