New Delhi: Taking note of the recent
spurt in `honour` killings, the Supreme Court on Monday sought
response from the Union Government and eight States on steps
taken to prevent such incidents.
A Bench of Justices R M Lodha and A K Patnaik issued
notice to the Centre and the States of Haryana, Punjab,
UP, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh and Madhya
Pradesh on the PIL filed by Shakti Vahini, an NGO.
The NGO voiced grave concern over the increasing
number such killings allegedly carried out at the instance of
khap panchayats (caste councils).
The PIL alleged that the Union/States have neither
taken any preventive steps which are required to be done to
combat such crimes which involves mass fury nor drafted a
policy/mechanism to protect such couples and individuals.
"The States have remained mute spectators of such
crimes and have remained completely silent on even
strengthening the law enforcement to combat such crimes. The
States have not drafted any monitoring mechanism for keeping a
watch on such crimes.
"In many cases they have failed to prosecute the
people who are involved in disturbing public tranquility. This
has resulted in severe violation of fundamental rights under
Article 14 (equality before law) and Article 19 (freedom of
expression and speech) of the Constitution of India, the PIL
According to the NGO, the khap panchayats were
resorting to crimes like torture, mutilation, rape, forced
marriage, imprisonment within the home and even murder.
"These crimes are intended to protect the family
honour by preventing and punishing women for allegedly
violating community norms of behaviour, particularly sexual
"Women have been abducted, arrested or raped and are
often blamed for shaming their families. Reasons for honour
killings can be as trivial as talking to a man, or as innocent
as suffering rape. These crimes are often collective and
premeditated," the NGO states citing a number of honour
killings reported in the media.
The NGO urged the apex court to direct the respective
Governments to constitute a special cell in each
district where young couples can approach for safety
measures. This can prevent honour killings to a certain
extent, it said.
"The killing of couples and individuals in the name of
honour is violation of the fundamental right of individual to
live with dignity and it is the duty of the state to protect
them," Shakti Vahini in its PIL stated.