Challenge Of Honour Killings

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 02 Apr 2018 12:01:20


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Adv. R.S. Agrawal

IN THE verdict on Shakti Vahini’s writ petition, delivered on March 27, 2018, Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud, at the Supreme Court have suggested Preventive Steps, Remedial Measures and Punitive Measures for implementation by the State Governments in six weeks, to combat Honour Crimes. The petitioner-Organisation was authorised for conducting Research Study on “Honour Killings in Haryana, Punjab and Western Uttar Pradesh” by order of December 22, 2009 passed by the National Commission for Women. It has been stated that there has been a spate of such honour killings in these 3 States and the said trend is on the increase and such killings have sent a chilling sense of fear amongst young people.
According to the apex court, to meet the challenges of the agonising effect of honour crime, there is need for preventive, remedial and punitive measures and, accordingly, the Court has stated the broad contours and the modalities with liberty to the Executive and the Police administration of the concerned States to add further measures to evolve a robust mechanism for it.


I. PREVENTIVE STEPS:


The State Governments should forthwith identify Districts, Sub-Divisions and /or villages where instances of honour killing or assembly of Khap Panchayats have been reported in the recent past (in the last five years).
It be ensured by the State Governments that Police Station officers of the identified areas should remain extra cautious if any instance of inter-caste or inter-religious marriage within their jurisdiction comes to their notice .
If information about any proposed gathering of a Khap Panchayat comes to the knowledge of any police officer or any officer of the District Administration, he shall forthwith inform his immediate superior officer and also simultaneously intimate the jurisdictional Dy. S.P. and S.P.
On receiving such information the Dy. S.P. (or such senior Police officer as identified by the State Governments with respect to the area/district) shall immediately interact with the members of the Khap Panchayat and impress upon them that convening such meeting/gathering is not permissible in law and to eschew from going ahead with such a meeting. Additionally, he should issue appropriate directions to the officer-in-charge of the jurisdictional Police station to be vigilant and, if necessary, to deploy adequate Police force for preventing assembly of the proposed gathering.
Despite taking such measures, if the meeting is conducted, the Dy. S.P. shall remain personally present during the meeting and impress upon the assembly that no decision can be taken to cause any harm to the couple or the family members of the couple, failing which each one participating in the meeting besides the organisers would be personally liable for criminal prosecution. He shall also ensure that video recording of the discussion and participation of the members of the assembly is done on the basis of which the law enforcing machinery can resort to suitable action. If the Dy. SP has reason to believe that the gathering cannot be prevented and/or is likely to cause harm to the couple or members of their family, he shall forthwith submit a proposal to the District Magistrate/SDM/ Competent Authority of the concerned area for issuing orders to take preventive steps under the Cr.P.C., including by invoking prohibitory orders under section 144 Cr.P.C. and also by causing arrest of the participants in the assembly under section 151 Cr.P.C. The Home Department of the Government of India must take initiative and work in co-ordination with the State Governments for sensitising the law enforcement agencies and by involving all the stakeholders. There should be an institutional machinery with the necessary co-ordination of all the stake holders. Different State Governments and the Centre ought to work on sensitisation of the Law Enforcement Agencies to mandate social initiatives and awareness to curb such violence.


II. REMEDIAL MEASURES:


Despite the preventive measures taken by the State Police, if it comes to the notice of the local police that the Khap Panchayat has taken place and it has passed any diktat to take action against a couple/family of anointer-caste or inter-religious marriage (or any other marriage which does not meet their acceptance), the jurisdictional police official shall cause to immediately lodge an FIR under the appropriate provisions of the IPC including sections 141, 143, 503, read with 506 of the IPC. Upon registration of FIR, intimation shall be simultaneously given to the S.P./ Dy. S.P. who, in turn, shall ensure that effective investigation of the crime is done and taken to its logical end with promptitude. Additionally, immediate steps should be taken to provide security to the couple/family. The State Government may consider of establishing a safe house at each district headquarters for that purpose.


Such safe houses can cater to accommodate (i) young bachelor-bachelorette couples whose relationship is being opposed by their families/local community/Khaps and (ii) young married couples (of an inter-caste or inter-religious or any other marriage being opposed by their families /local community/ Khaps). Such safe houses may be placed under the supervision of the jurisdictional District Magistrate and Superintendent of Police.


On receiving such information, the Dy. S.P. (or such senior police officer as identified by the State Governments with respect to the area/district) shall immediately interact with the members of the Khap Panchayat and impress upon them that convening of such meeting/gathering is not permissible in law and to eschew from going ahead with such a meeting. Additionally, he should issue appropriate directions to the Incharge of the jurisdictional police station to be vigilant and, if necessary, to deploy adequate police force for prevention of assembly of the proposed gathering.


Despite taking such measures, if the meeting is conducted, the Dy. S.P. shall personally remain present during the meeting and impress upon the assembly that no decision can be taken to cause any harm to the couple or family members of the couple, failing which each one participating in the meeting besides the organisers would be personally liable for criminal prosecution. He shall also ensure video recording of the discussion and participation of the members is done on the basis of which the law enforcing machinery can resort to suitable action. In case, if the Officer has reason to believe that the gathering cannot be prevented, then in order to prevent likely harm to the couple or members of their families, he shall take preventive steps to impose prohibitory orders under section 144 of the Cr.P.C. and by causing arrest of the participants in the assembly under section 151 of the Cr.P.C.


III. PUNITIVE MEASURES:


The Supreme Court has suggested five-fold punitive measures, which include: Failure to act in time will be treated as an act of deliberate negligence and or misconduct for which departmental action must be taken, under service rules. Such action shall be initiated and taken to its logical end, preferably not exceeding six months. The State Governments shall create special cells with 24-hour helpline in every district to receive complaints of such couples and or their families and for providing assistance to them.The criminal cases (including pending cases) relating to honour killing or violence to the couple(s) shall be tried before the designated Court/ Fast Track Court earmarked for that purpose. The trial would be on day to day basis and would be concluded in six months. Disposing of the petition, the apex court has directed the State Governments to implement these directions/measures in six weeks and to submit compliance report to the Registry of the Court.