Issuing a strong warning against "honour killings", Law and Justice Minister M Veerappa Moily on Tuesday said these killings could not be justified but said the government is ready to listen to the demands of khap panchayats (caste councils).
"Each one has got his own opinion. We recognise personal laws in this country. I can definitely look at it, if someone petitions me from the khaps. But that doesn't justify honour killings," Moily told CNN-IBN news channel.
The minister said the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government will back khaps on social welfare programmes, provided they don't get involved in killing.
The government will bring a new law on honour killings, he said.
"The bill is now with the home ministry. Five clauses will be added to Section 300 (of the Indian Penal Code). The Indian Evidence Act will be amended to shift burden of proof to the accused and we will amend the Special Marriage Act to take away the 30 days notice period to get married," Moily said.
Moily's reaction came a day after Congress MP Navin Jindal said he was standing besides khap panchayats and assured them of taking their message and demands to the Congress high command in New Delhi and Haryana's ruling Congress government.
After Monday's meeting, khap panchayat representatives also submitted a memorandum to Jindal, detailing their demands.
Various khap panchayats have launched a widespread campaign seeking an amendment in the Hindu Marriage Act to outlaw marriages within the same gotra or ancestral lineage.
The demand came when they were protesting against the conviction of six people, including khap panchayat leader Ganga Raj, in the honour killing of a couple who had married within the same gotra.