Govt divided on khaps
Sharp differences among ministers on Thursday forced the union cabinet to defer a decision on how to rein in the caste panchayats (khaps) and check the growing incidents of honour killings in the country. See graphicdelhi Updated: Jul 09, 2010 00:55 IST
Sharp differences among ministers on Thursday forced the union cabinet to defer a decision on how to rein in the caste panchayats (khaps) and check the growing incidents of honour killings in the country.
A group of ministers (GoM) will be formed to look into the issue and the government will also seek the views of all the states. The suggestion to consult states came from PM Manmohan Singh, prompting other ministers to speak up.
Though the cabinet was unanimous that the menace of “honour killings” has to be dealt with, at least five ministers present in the meeting did not agree with Home Minister P. Chidambaram’s proposal to amend existing laws and wanted more stringent measures.
Wondering what prevented one from acting within existing laws, Human Resources Development Minister Kapil Sibal reportedly suggested incorporation of fresh provisions in the law to curb this menace.
Sources said Sibal was of the view that the government should consider a new-stand alone law (like that on sati) to deal with such killings, as the existing laws faced enforcement problems. Road and Transport Minister Kamal Nath and Telecom Minister A. Raja supported him.
Sports Minister M.S. Gill is learnt to have pointed out that since khaps do not have legal status, the government should not dilute the issue of honour killings by trying to make all members in such assemblies culpable for murder.
Kamal Nath and Steel Minister Virbhadra Singh also favoured inclusion of views from all the state governments. Chidambaram is understood to have stressed that strong measures were required.
The government, however, downplayed the differences. “There were no differences, we want wider consultation. There is not only social and media pressure, but within our own Cabinet and party, we feel ‘honour killings’ have to be brought under the ambit of the law,” said I&B Minister, Ambika Soni.
She said the government hopes to move the amendments during the Monsoon session of Parliament, beginning July 26. Chidambaram said consultations with states would be completed before conclusion of Parliament session.