Define honour killing as `heinous crime`: Experts

Amid strong voices against caste council rulings and honour killings, experts Wednesday demanded an amendment in Indian Penal Code to define these as "heinous crime" by adding a new section to the criminal law.

New Delhi: Amid strong voices against caste
council rulings and honour killings, experts Wednesday demanded
an amendment in Indian Penal Code to define these as "heinous
crime" by adding a new section to the criminal law.

"There is lack of accurate information on honour
killings in India, primarily because it is not defined in our
law. It should be defined as a heinous crime, it is a crime
against women," said Supreme Court Advocate Kirti Singh during
an interactive panel discussion on `Honour Killing`.

Citing example of charges levelled against late
journalist Nirupama Pathak`s boyfriend Priyabhanshu Ranjan,
some panel members alleged that false cases of rape and
abduction have been filed against the boy by the girl`s family
to "add insult to the injury."

On diktats of `khaps` or caste councils, Singh said
instead of taking action against the culprits who are
supported by such panchayats, the police actually help the
guilty by their behaviour, a view which was supported by
senior academician Prem Choudhary.

While discussing the legality of marriage in same
`gotra` (sub-caste), Choudhary said it is allowed under the
Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and so khaps should stop their
intervention in this issue.

However, Pradhan of Gathwala Khap Balbir Singh Malik
rubbished the allegation that killings of Manoj Banwala and
Babli, two members of the same clan who eloped and married in
June 2007, was ordered by a Khap.

He claimed, "No khap has given any order of honour
killing. If you have proof than show it."

He said that in Kurukshetra Khap, the leaders took a
decision on "non-consideration" of grandmother`s and maternal
grandmother`s gotra in marriage. "Only the gotra of father and
mother are now being considered."

Meanwhile, Sompal Singh Shastri, former Union minister
for agriculture, said Khap is necessary for benefit of
villagers but it should not interfere in the issues of

"Khaps have taken many decisions against dowry, domestic
violence. It is an age-old institution but its role should be
limited. Politicians are not coming forward against its wrong
decision because of vote-bank politics," he said.


Chandigarh: With Jats, accounting for over
one-fourth of the electorate in Haryana, political leaders are
openly supporting Khaps or caste councils, recently in news
for their diktats over same `gotra` marriages.

Congress MP from Kurukshetra, Navin Jindal not only
attended a Khap Mahapanchayat in Kaithal on Sunday, about 120
km from here, but also lauded these panchayats saying they had
been rendering yeoman service to the society by resolving
people`s problems over ages.

His constituency has a strong presence of the Khaps and it
was Karoran village in Kaithal district from where Babli (19)
and Manoj (23) fell in love and were murdered in cold blood.

Their relationship was not approved as it violated the same
`gotra` norm, under which even married couple is declared as a
brother and sister.

"They (Khaps) are constituents of my constituency and I
have to listen to them," Jindal has maintained, even though he
has made it clear that any action, which violate law, cannot
be justified.

While praise for the Khaps by Jindal (40), who is also a
leading industrialist and US-educated, may have surprised a
few, but 75-year-old former Chief Minister and opposition INLD
supremo, Om Prakash Chautala`s recent statements that his
party will bring a resolution to amend the Hindu Marriage Act,
goes on to show that parties in Haryana cannot afford to annoy
the Jats.

The present Act does not address the problem of same gotra
marriages, a key demand raised by various Khaps.

"We will bring a resolution in the assembly regarding this.
If the government brings an amendment bill, my party will
support it," Chautala has said.

Another senior Congress leader and six-time MLA from
Rewari, Ajay Yadav, too has been supportive of the Khaps,
admitting that there is a "scientific reason" why marriages
within the same gotras should not take place.

Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, also a Jat, has
tried to play down fatwas issued from time to time by the
Khaps, maintaining that law will take its own course and
nobody will be allowed to take law in his own hands.

However, his close confidant and Rajya Sabha member Shadi
Lal Batra has also gone a step ahead, favouring amendment in
the Hindu Marriage Act.

Various Khaps including Dharana, Singhwal and Asanda, have
in the past been issuing fatwas to couples and their families
over same gotra marriages.

Political analysts point out that with Municipal polls and
Panchayat elections drawing closer in the state, parties
cannot afford to alienate the Jats.

The Jats are believed to have helped in INLD`s resurgence
in October 2009 elections. The party bounced back into
reckoning after being out in the dumps having tasted
successive electoral defeats from 2004.


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