Barbaric, feudal and a slur on the country, honour killings deserve the death penalty as punishment, Supreme Court said on Monday.
"Honour killings, for whatever reason, come within the category of rarest of rare cases deserving death punishment. It is time to stamp out these barbaric, feudal practices,” a bench of justices Markandey Katju and Gyan Sudha Mishra said.
Noting that ‘honour’ killings had become commonplace in many parts of the country, particularly in Haryana, western Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, it said, “Often, young couples who fall in love have to seek shelter in the police lines or
protection homes to avoid the wrath of kangaroo courts.”
Quoting from its earlier verdict in an earlier case, it said there was nothing ‘honourable’ in ‘honour’ killings, and it was nothing but barbaric and brutal murders by bigoted persons with feudal mentality.
Bhagwan Dass moved Supreme Court after the Delhi high court last June upheld the life imprisonment given to him by a trial court. Dass strangulated his daughter Seema on May 16, 2006 with an electric wire and tried to cremate her body when the police arrested him.
"Many people feel they are dishonoured by the behaviour of the young man (or) woman, who is related to them or belongs to their caste because he/she is marrying against their wish or having an affair with someone,” the SC said.
"Hence, they take the law into their own hands and kill or physically assault such persons or commit some other atrocities on them,” the court said.
"If someone is not happy with the behaviour of his daughter or other person, who is his relation or of his caste, the maximum he can do is to cut off social relations with her/him, but he cannot take the law into his own hands by committing violence or giving threats of violence,” it said.
The bench ordered that a copy of the judgment be sent to registrar generals/registrars of all high courts, chief secretaries, home secretaries and DGPs for further circulation among sessions judges and police officials.
However, activist Madhu Kishwar, who has been researching khap panchayats (often blamed for honour killings) said, “I think they (the judges) have gone overboard. To say that every honour killing falls within the category of rarest of rare is a very arbitrary way of interpreting the law.”