Cabinet to discuss law against honour killing

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Old 08-Jul-2010
Cabinet to discuss law against honour killing

New Delhi, July 7

Concerned at the increasing incidence of young couples being done to death by self-styled khap panchayats, the UPA government has drawn up a strict law against honour killings, which is slated for discussion at the weekly meeting of the Union Cabinet tomorrow.

Although the Law Ministry had sent a draft law to the Home Ministry for its comments several months ago, the Centre has speeded up work on the legislation in view of the alarming number of cases of honour killings being reported virtually everyday.

The proposed amendments in the Indian Penal Code, Indian Evidence Act and Special Marriages Act, which are to be taken up by the Cabinet, provides for strictest penal action against members of a family, community or a caste panchayat if their decision or action leads to the death of any person.

The Home Ministry has proposed an addition of another clause to Section 300 of the IPC, according to which, all members of the khap panchayat will be punishable with the sentence of death or life imprisonment, if their action results in the death of the person or persons.

This clause lays down strict punishment in cases of death which are done by any persons “acting in concert with, or, at the behest of, a member of the family” or a member of a group, or clan or caste panchayat in the belief that “the victim has brought dishonour” upon them.

The term “dishonour” shall include cases of persons “choosing to marry within or outside the gotra or caste or clan’ against the wishes of his or her family or clan or caste panchayat. The term also covers acts of persons adopting a dress code.

In other words, the proposed amendments will allow the police to act against leaders and members of khap panchayats if they take any action against those who are perceived to have brought dishonour to a clan or caste panchayat.

In addition, the Home Ministry’s proposed amendment to the Evidence Act puts the burden of proving their innocence in such cases on the accused. who are charged under the “new clause” of Section 300 of the IPC.

In order to provide a safety net to the couples, the Centre has proposed that the Special Marriages Act, 1954, be amended to do away with the provision of the mandatory 30 days notice period for marriages registered in courts.

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