Saturday, July 10, 2010

Whether Special Law is required on Honour Killing

"Ceremony of Burning a Hindu Widow with t...Image via Wikipedia

The Centre has decided to look into the scope of enacting a separate special law that will treat it as a social evil along the lines of the Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act instead  to bring amendments in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for including honour killings under its ambit. Accordingly Govt. has  referred the matter to a Group of Ministers (GoM) on Thursday and agreed that views of states be sought, after the Cabinet, following a spirited discussion, backed Home Minister P Chidambaram’s contention that there was a need to give special focus to the issue of honour killings. While  the HRD Minister Kapil Sibal questioned the logic of moving amendments to the IPC along with the Indian Evidence Act and the Special Marriages Act to deal with honour killings. Sibal’s argument, supported by other colleagues like Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, was that any “honour” killing just amounted to murder and hence, the need should be on ensuring action over the murder charges rather than classify them as a separate category of murder. They were of the view that existing laws were adequate to deal with the problem. M S Gill also objected to some of the provisions suggested,  specifically on ambiguity on who all constituted a clan or caste panchayat. Citing the example of ‘khap’ panchayats where a diktat to kill in the name of honour is issued by a congregation of villagers, Gill raised the question whether all those present should be held accountable. Making the point that law be made in a manner that it is enforceable, he said more clarity was needed in the proposed changes and suggested that a special law be enacted given the social context, rather than go for changes in existing laws. The state Consultations will be completed well before the (month-long) Monsoon session is over and views of the states will be placed before the Cabinet,
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