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7 convicted for killing couple

delhi Updated: Mar 26, 2010 01:46 IST
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For the first time, a city court on Thursday held six persons guilty of murdering a couple in a case of honour killing in 2007. The seventh accused was found guilty of abducting the couple.

The guilty, including five relatives of the girl, killed the couple because they belonged to the same gotra (sub caste).

The court would pronounce their punishment on March 29.

The landmark judgment that convicted the guilty is a major boost in the fight against the growing menace in some parts of the country.

The deceased Manoj (26) married Babli (21) on May 18, 2007, but their village in Kaithal district refused to accept it.

The khap panchayat (caste panchayat) passed a diktat ordering their killing soon after the news of their marriage spread.

The panchayat ruled that both were from the same gotra and that, in the eyes of the community, made them siblings.

The villagers murdered the couple despite a local court having ordered police protection for them. They were killed in June 2007 by Babli’s kin with the help of other villagers.

Those convicted include Babli’s brother and paternal uncle, her maternal uncle Balu Ram and his two sons.

An influential Congress leader from Kaithal district and head of the Banwala khap Ganga Raj have also been convicted for murdering the couple.

The judgment comes at a time when the government is set to amend the 150-year-old Indian Penal Code to define honour killing as a heinous crime by adding a new section to the criminal law, with punishment ranging from life imprisonment to even a death sentence.

So far, honour killing is not a classified crime in India and no separate data is available for it.

The proposal moved by the home ministry has been cleared by the law ministry and the government is likely to be move a bill in parliament soon after getting the cabinet nod.

Home Minister P Chidambaram had assured the Rajya Sabha last year that the government was considering "a fresh definition" for honour killings.

"Caste panchayats aid and abet honour killings. Principle actors in such panchayats need to be arrayed as accused and prosecuted for murder," Chidambaram had told the House.