NEW DELHI: the Supreme Court has asked the Centre to expedite and finalise legislation to prevent and punish those involved in honour killings. The legislation was proposed by the UPA government and was also backed by the Law Commission. An apex court bench of justices Anil Dave and A M Khanwilkar, while hearing a public interest litigation which was pending for past six years, asked the Centre to respond to the slew of suggestions submitted by amicus curiae and senior advocate Raju Ramachandran within four months and slated the hearing for March 14.
The court was hearing the plea of Shakti Vahini, an NGO, which has sought the court’s directions to the Central and State governments, to prevent and control honour crimes.
The suggestions by the amicus curiae said, “State governments should identify districts, sub-divisions and villages which have witnessed instances of honour killing or assembly of khap panchayats in the past one year. The officer in-charge of the police station in the areas so identified should be issued directives by the Superintendent of Police to be extra cautious of any instance of inter caste or inter religions marriage that comes to his/her notice.” “It would be the duty of the SHO, Superintendent of Police, and the District Magistrate of the district to ensure the safety of the couple of such a marriage by taking such steps as may be required, including, but limited to, providing a safe house, police protection etc,” the suggestion said.
The suggestions also recommend punitive action in case an offence is committed and said, “In case any substantive offence is committed against a couple/family of inter caste or inter-religious marriage, it would be the duty of the SHO and the Superintendent of Police to conduct an investigation not only to apprehend the perpetrators of the crime, but also to investigate the role of the khap panchayat, if any.”
In 2012, the Law Commission had proposed legislation to prosecute persons or groups involved in such endangering conduct and activities.
The draft Prohibition of Unlawful Assembly (Interference with the freedom of matrimonial alliances) Bill, 2011, says that offences under the Act will be cognisable, non-bailable and non-compoundable and proposes that offences under the Act will be tried by special courts to be headed by a Sessions Judge or an Additional Session Judge.