The Union cabinet on Thursday is likely to consider changes in three existing laws to provide for stringent punishment for those guilty of honour killings.
Alarmed over the rising cases of honour killings across the country, the government is set to amend the 150-year-old Indian Penal Code (IPC) to redefine the offence of murder by adding a new clause to Section 300 to classify honour killing as an act of murder.
According to the proposed measures, all members of caste panchayats (khaps) present when such killings are ordered will be charged with the offence of murder, and not only those who carried out the killing.
The mandatory 30 days’ notice required for registering marriages solmenised under the Special Marriages Act,
1954, will also be done away with.
This law is mainly used to register inter-religious and inter-caste marriages, which are often resisted by families of the couples.
The home and law ministries are of the view that this notice period is used by families opposed to marriages to harass the couple and, in some cases, even murder them.
The government also proposes to amend Section 105 of the Indian Evidence Act to shift the responsibility of proving innocence on the accused in cases of honour killings. Till now, according to Indian law, it is for the prosecution to prove the guilt of the accused.