New Delhi: Murdering somebody for adopting a dress code "unacceptable" to their caste or community may come under the ambit of honour killings if a Group of Ministers set
up to look into the scourge adopts a proposal in this regard.
This is one of the proposed amendments to the Indian Penal Code (IPC), Evidence Act, 1872 and Special Marriages Act, 1954 being discussed by the Group of Ministers set up
amid divergent views on tackling honour killings, government sources told a news agency.
Among other proposals, the "revised" draft of Indian Penal Code and Certain Other Laws (Amendment) Bill 2010 plans to bring murders for bringing "dishonour" to caste or family through marriages under the ambit of honour killings.
According to the "revised bill" in circulation, the government is planning to bring amendments to sections 300 (committing an intentional act which causes death) and 354
(assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) of IPC and Section 105 of the Indian Evidence Act.
In section 300 of IPC, the government is planning to introduce honour killings as the fifth clause.
The proposed fifth clause says, "if it is done by any person or persons acting in concert with, or at the behest of, a member of the family or a member of a body or group of the
caste or clan or community or caste panchayat (by whatever name called) in the belief that the victim has brought dishonour or perceived to have brought dishonour upon the
family or caste or clan or community or caste panchayats."
In the explanations given for the clause, the proposal says that "dishonour" and "perceived to have brought dishonour" will include "acts of any person adopting a dress
code which is unacceptable to his or her family or caste or clan or community or caste panchayat".
The murders for choosing to marry within or outside the `gotra` (sub-caste) or caste or clan or community against the wishes of one`s family or caste or clan or community will also come under the ambit of the honour killings, if the proposals pass through the test in Parliament.
Killing somebody for engaging in sexual relations which are unacceptable to the community or caste panchayat or family also comes under it, the draft says.
Externment of a person in the belief that he or she has brought dishonour will also be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years or with fine or with both, the draft said.
On who all come under the ambit of dishonour killings, the draft suggest that all members of a body or group of caste or clan or community or caste panchayat, ordering or abetting the commission of murder will be deemed guilty of having committed
The amendment to the Evidence Act could see a new insertion in section 105 (burden of proving that case of accused comes within exceptions) in which the onus is on the
accused to prove their innocence.
"When a death of a member of a family occurs and a person or a group of persons is accused of acts falling within the fifth clause of section 300 of IPC, then, the burden of
proving that case does not fall within that section shall be upon such person or persons," the draft says.
The Government is also planning to do away with the 30-day notice period under the Special Marriage Act for inter-caste and inter-religion marriages.
The amendments to include honour killings in IPC has been referred to the GoM, as the Union Cabinet is divided over the issue.
The Union Cabinet had in its meeting on July 8, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, decided to seek views of states on the "sensitive" issue after it discussed the matter
to some length.
Most of the ministers observed that the present laws were not adequate to deal with such killings but there was no unanimity on how to go about it, sources said.
Kapil Sibal, MS Gill and Kamal Nath were among those who expressed their opinions on dealing with the menace effectively, they said.
Gill cited the example of `khap` panchayats where orders to murder anyone in the name of honour are issued by a congregation of villagers and wondered whether all the people present during that assembly should be held accountable.
Sibal suggested some changes in the law to deal with such killings, specifically.
As divergent views were expressed, a decision was taken to form a GoM to deliberate on the matter thoroughly and seek views of states on the proposed changes to the Indian Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).