Amid strong voices against caste council rulings and honour killings, experts today demanded an amendment in Indian Penal Code to define these as "heinous crime" by adding a new section to the criminal law.
"There is lack of accurate information on honour killings in India, primarily because it is not defined in our law. It should be defined as a heinous crime, it is a crime against women," said Supreme Court Advocate Kirti Singh during an interactive panel discussion on 'Honour Killing'.
Citing example of charges levelled against late journalist Nirupama Pathak's boyfriend Priyabhanshu Ranjan, some panel members alleged that false cases of rape and abduction have been filed against the boy by the girl's family to "add insult to the injury."
On diktats of 'khaps' or caste councils, Singh said instead of taking action against the culprits who are supported by such panchayats, the police actually help the guilty by their behaviour, a view which was supported by senior academician Prem Choudhary.
While discussing the legality of marriage in same 'gotra' (sub-caste), Choudhary said it is allowed under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and so khaps should stop their intervention in this issue.
However, Pradhan of Gathwala Khap Balbir Singh Malik rubbished the allegation that killings of Manoj Banwala and
Babli, two members of the same clan who eloped and married in June 2007, was ordered by a khap.
He claimed, "no khap has given any order of honour killing. If you have proof than show it."
He said that in Krukshetra Khap, the leaders took a decision on "non-consideration" of grandmother's and maternal grandmother's gotra in marriage. "Only the gotra of father and mother are now being considered."
Meanwhile, Sompal Singh Shastri, former Union Minister for Agriculture, said khap is necessary for benefit of villagers but it should not interfere in the issues of marriages.
"Khaps have taken many decision against dowry, domestic violence. It is a age-old institution but its role should be limited. Politicians are not coming forward against its wrong decision because of vote-bank politics," he said.