Honor killing is probably one of most terrible of all the crimes of honour that
occur. While some of the components of the offence may coincide with criteria of
Culpable Homicide under the IPC 1860, It has some distinct characteristics that
make it even more terrible than culpable homicide. The target of an honour
killing is typically a part of the accused's own family or social group, rather
than a third party.
Humankind has developed throughout time. The human species
has carved itself a distinct place in a spatial setting. Men have maintained
their position at the top of the hierarchical hierarchy. As a consequence, the
environment has adapted to their specific requirements. Humans are in fact
looking for pleasure. But, from ancient times, human civilization has placed a
high value on the concept of honor. As a consequence, whether it's in the
Ramayana era, when society was not ready to embrace Sita, or in modern times,
reputation is prioritized above happiness.
The concept of honor or repute, for
which an individual's life is not spared, is also a source of contention in
societal structure. Man is, first and foremost, a social animal, spending his
whole existence in interaction with other humans and as a part of different
structured social organizations. In many instances, the offender is a brother or
parent whose traditional duty was originally intended to be to shield the victim
from danger. The culprit of these acts is motivated only by an idealistic
ambition to restore dignity to the bloodline by killing the member of the family
who has caused disgrace to the clan.
The lack of control that male family
members feel over a female family member's sexual activity is usually the cause
of this perceived shame. It has been declared a violation of human rights all
around the globe. There are many reports in the press that a female was murdered
as a result of having a relationship with a boy, that a young couple were
murdered for having a wedding, or that a boy and a girl were cruelly attacked
for being discovered in a compromised position.
There have also been instances
of freshly married inter-caste spouses being executed as a penalty for violating
caste endogamy norms, as well as women being murdered by their husbands on the
assumption of sexual adultery. One aspect that these killings had in general was
nobody in public, with the exception of NGOs fighting to defend gender equality
and empowering women and the mainstream press, denounced them throughout time.
The much-discussed Manoj-Babli murder case
, in which the Karnal district court
in Haryana sentenced the 5 accused people to death. It was a watershed event
when the court sentenced the culprits in an honour killing case to execution for
the very first occasion. Furthermore, the chief of the khap panchayat who
commanded the murders but was not engaged in the assassinations was sentenced to
life in jail, while the chauffeur participated in the kidnapping of the victims
was sentenced to seven years in prison.
The case sparked a lot of debate in the
news and among the wider populace. The fact that the case was sentenced to death
most likely made it worthy of press highlights and widespread debate. It is most
common in India in states like Punjab, Haryana, and the western portion of Uttar
Pradesh, as well as certain areas of Bihar. The number of incidents is unknown.
Honour killing is a violating the right to live with dignity.
Honour Killing: Meaning and Concept
Religion may be used to excuse honor murders in certain cases. Honour killing is
a murder committed in order to restore family honor, respect, purity, or to
restore the tainted honor, or the reputation in issue. As a result, killing is
a type of cleansing action in this context. It cleanses the tainted tribe with
the immoral person's bloodshed. In attempt to reestablish the chastity,
community standards may require the execution of the offender.
The more heinous
the assassination, the more comprehensive the recovery of the family's honor. As
a result, victims are often hanged, stabbed, or tortured to death. Violence has
the effect of enhancing the purity to be imparted. Among societies, measures
such as chopping, roasting, or strangulation are common. These assassinations
are the consequence of the view that defending one's honor justifies murdering
someone whose behavior dishonors their tribe, group, or family .
According to Human Rights Watch (2001),
A woman might be assaulted by (individuals within) her family members for a
number of reasons, including being the victim of a sexual assault, refusing to
join an arranged marriage, or seeking a divorce from an abusive or (supposedly)
unfaithful spouse. The simple perception that a woman's behavior dishonors
her family is enough to justify an attempt on her lives.
According to Amnesty International:
Honour killing of a woman by a male
relative is a crime that is collectively planned, sociologically expected, and
socially sanctioned by the family and community involved. It further contends
that the honor system is merciless, and that women are not given the opportunity
to justify oneself. Their relatives have no other culturally adequate solution
than to attack them in clearing the blot on family reputation.
The notion that honor killing is some kind of crimes against women doesn't
really imply nor suggest that males are not susceptible to such murders, but
women continue to be the predominant casualties of such offences. Females are
often critical role actors in upholding the bounds of sexual behavior and may
also be privy to agreements to murder, even their own children, in executing
crimes of honor. The term honour in honour killing is ironic since the killings
undertaken, as well as the manner in which they are perpetrated or executed ,
are devoid of any honor.
Role of Khap Panchayats
The term khap originally appeared in the Jodhpur census report of 1890-91, which
was based on religion and caste. However, there isn't a lot of reliable
information regarding khaps. Experts believe that the term khap is derived from
the saka language word khatrap, which denotes a clan-specific region. A khap
political unit is described as a collection of 84 villages.
which are common in several regions of India, had attracted criticism for their
involvement in delivering different types of mandates or fatwas which pose a
major danger to people' basic freedoms. As a result, hence the need to analyze
its function in this respect. The Supreme Court of India has expressed strong
opinions upon that rising threat posed by khap panchayats. There seem to be a
lot of examples that've been explicitly recorded that demonstrate the amount of
effortful control via the mandates of khap panchayat under the guise of customs,
heritage, and social standards that are contrary to the conceptions of life and
The function of the court is critical in a democratic society. However, in
addition to the official Indian courts, there are many communal courts that are
authorized by the local residents themselves to determine different concerns
pertaining to their group. These communal judges lack the lawful authorization
to determine the laws, and their verdicts have no constitutional status in
system of justice since it is thought that their working is opaque an most of
the times contradicts the constitutional provisions.
These are self-proclaimed
extra-constitutional entities that wield all authority of the judicial system to
deliver instructions that are commonly seen to be in contravention of basic
freedoms. Such additional undemocratic entities, which exist in the shape of
caste panchayats, have created sentiments amongst itself as protectors of
reputation and believe it is their job to punish individuals who breach societal
norms and practices.
Among the most pressing challenges facing khap
panchayats is the selection of a life mate. If a person makes a decision that
goes against the etiquette of the societal structure, the khaps will limit that
decision. As per the khaps, wedding is the only device that guarantees sanctity
in lineage, group, and religious dogma, and anyone who attempts to contravene
the standards is considered to be introducing shame and humiliation to the
Weddings are customarily finally agreed by the seniors of the household
and are backed by the social rules and social customs, and the khap followers
think that as the leader of the cultures, they have had the duty to preserve the
cultural norms and practices of the community that the younger generation under
the influence of western culture want to infringe. It is claimed that modern
people are not willing to adhere to ancient customs that limit their opportunity
to appreciate and use their constitutional protections. Those who embrace khap
beliefs argue that it is vital for upholding ethical code in community.
There have been many occurrences in the recent past wherein the khap panchayats
et severe critics for their notorious diktats. Such as a khap panchayat in
Rohtak had ordered a married couple to live together as siblings since they were
from the same gotra. a khap panchayat in Up ordered girls to not wear jeans
and banned boys also from wearing shorts. The examples of mandates show the
level of cruelty performed by khap panchayats in community underneath the guise
of upholding cultures and practices.
A 23year old boy named Vinay Dahiya was
shot down by half dozen man while injuring his wife. Notably, the two had
previously petitioned the Punjab and Haryana High Court for security from the
girl's relatives, who purportedly intended to murder them if they married.
Following that, the court dismissed the plea by instructing the couple to seek
security from Sonipat Police.
There was discontent in the girl's family since
they felt her marrying with Vinay, who belonged to the same gotra, had given
them a terrible name in the society. The main contention advanced by khap
proponents is that it is necessary to safeguard cultural practices in order to
preserve or perpetuate the social fabric. They do not stand firm or put logic or
common sense to the proof in this baseless claim since norms, beliefs, and
societies can never be unswayed by changing situations or abolished.
level of integration in concerns of personal life and interests is essential for
a community to progress. Honour assassinations appear to be the outcome of
panchayat narcissism and their fear of losing society females in different ways
. Honor crimes may be found in every section of our nation; no region is immune,
although locations such as Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh have a high number
Intentional killings of young couples have been carried out on
the orders of dictatorial khap panchayats since these khaps see intercaste,
intra-clan, and within-village weddings contrary to their ethos. To these
khaps, it makes no difference that the families of the boy and girl planned the
wedding, that a child has already been born as a result of the marital
relationship, and that they have done nothing illegal in the legal sense.
has been observed that the khap panchayat organizes a session of village elders
and gives authoritarian diktats to do horrific killing of married people, expel
their family members from village region, and end up making a requirement of
some terrific value to enforce on those who would offer to help them or even
have a conversation with them in the long run.
Politics and Khap PanchayatsDespite the fact that there is a parallel dictatorial and undemocratic court
system, efforts to eliminate khap panchayats have stalled numerous times. Even
the Supreme Court's decisions against such panchayats are rendered ineffective. These facts raise issues such as:
Why did these endeavors fail?
Why can't such
irrational organizations be outlawed? The answers to these issues are hidden
behind the complicated labyrinth of Indian political traditions. In the khap
dominant regions, the Jats and Gurjars constitute the majority and have a big
population. In political terms, they are a large political force, and any action
done towards them might result in a larger electoral loss for a ruling party. As
a consequence, these toxic political tactics are destroying Indian society's
harmony and dignity. To back up these facts, we may go to the commitments of
several politicians who have given fair credentials to these khaps and see them
as a vital part of our society.
Manohar Lal Khattar, the current Chief Minister of Haryana, had issued a
pro-khaps declaration. He asserted that:
They are like parents minding the
children, and they take swift decisions on matters in which the courts are
silent. Khap Panchayats consist of experienced members of the society and they
make sensible decisions.
Bhupinder Singh Hooda, the former Chief Minister of
Haryana, in his admiration for these panchayats. Said:
Khap Panchayats are like
NGOs as we have resident welfare association, they are part of our culture.
So what would be the fate of the state which reports the maximum incidents of honour killings and its leaders are openly supporting the institutions behind
the honour killings
The judiciary is an important aspect of the democratic system, and its
importance in the building of a free democracy is difficult to comprehend. The
court's role is not confined to administering justice; it also serves as an
interpreter and defends the liberties. The judiciary has the authority of
judicial oversight and may either approve or reject legislation that are
incompatible with constitution. Personal freedoms cannot be safeguarded or
enhanced in the absence of a dynamic judicial process. The courts are critical
to the protection and expansion of people' democratic and basic rights.
has a significant degree of responsibility for carrying out the legal
requirements and protecting people' basic rights. Furthermore, the efficient
operation of the other organs of the state is dependent on the successful
execution of judicial proceedings. With groundbreaking rulings, the court
establishes a precedent that aids in the resolution of numerous issues.
judicial procedure that resulted from such rulings strengthens the previously
existing legal system and offers up new avenues for people' rights protection.
As a result, basic human rights are effectively protected in the courts. Lately,
in several regions of India, incidences of honour crimes have been escalating on
a daily basis. The tendency is fast expanding across the nation, resulting in
serious abuses of human rights. The courts has demonstrated excellence not only
in preventing this horrible crime but also sending a clear signal to authorities
to take preventative steps.
The supreme court has played an active role in
protecting personal rights and in taking necessary steps against variety of
social evils prevalent in community, one of which is honor killing, upon which
it has played a massive part not only in deterring the offenses but also in
sending solid instructions to police to take measures. Through many landmark
rulings, the Supreme Court of India has constantly taken a strong role in
lifting the veil on honour assassinations.
In case of Lata vs. State of UP
 Hon'ble SC had allowed the writ petition
under article 32 to a woman for her right to marry any person of her choice by
her free will. In this case court stated that:
"The caste system is a curse on the nation and the sooner it is destroyed the
better. In fact, it is dividing the nation at a time when we have to be united
to face the challenges before the nation unitedly. Hence, inter-caste marriages
are in fact in the national interest as they will result in destroying the caste
However, disturbing news is coming from several parts of the country
that young men and women, who undergo inter-caste marriage, are threatened with
violence, or violence is actually committed on them. In our opinion, such acts
of violence or threats or harassment are wholly illegal and those who commit
them must be severely punished. This is a free and democratic country, and once
a person becomes a major he or she can marry whosoever he/she likes.
parents of the boy or girl do not approve of such inter-caste or interreligious
marriage the maximum they can do is that they can cut off social relations with
the son or the daughter, but they cannot give threats or commit or instigate
acts of violence and cannot harass the person who undergoes such inter-caste or
We, therefore, direct that the administration/police
authorities throughout the country will see to it that if any boy or girl who is
a major undergoes inter-caste or inter-religious marriage with a woman or man
who is a major, the couple are not harassed by any one nor subjected to threats
or acts of violence, and anyone who gives such threats or harasses or commits
acts of violence either himself or at his instigation, is taken to task by
instituting criminal proceedings by the police against such persons and further
stern action is taken against such persons as provided by law.
There is nothing
honorable in such killings, and in fact they are nothing but barbaric and
shameful acts of murder committed by brutal, feudal-minded persons who deserve
harsh punishment. Only in this way can we stamp out such acts of barbarism"
In another milestone and significant decision, the case of Manoj and Babli:
girl's family murdered the two young lovers to death, reaching new lows in
depravity. The circumstances altered when the Hon'ble Court sentenced the five
suspects in this case to death for murdering the couple. The court also remarked
that this was not merely a case of murdering two innocent children, but also a
heinous crime against humanity, calling it the rarest of the rare
In his verdict the judge observed:
This court has gone through sleepless nights and tried to put itself in the
shoes of the offenders and think as to what might have prompted them to take
such a step as well as the khap panchayats have functioned contrary to the
constitution, ridiculed it and have become a law unto themselves.
In Pradeep v. State of Haryana
, The Punjab and Haryana High Court Laid down
the guidelines while dealing with matter where girls parents file a complaint
against the boy in case, they runaway ,the court was dealing and flooded with
the number of cases of runaway couples hence issued directions regarding the
same . The High Court in this case laid down the laws regarding the matters
where the complaints have been filed by the girl's family against the boy and
even against his family.
The court in this case directed authorities that in
case if any complaint is received by the girl's family regarding kidnapping and
abduction against boy, then he will not be arrested immediately unless the
police receives any statement by the girl. Also the girl if she is a major, she
should not be forcibly handed over to her family against her consent and no
criminal force be applied to boy as well. The court also directed that if any
threat is received and life liberty is endangered regarding the runaway couple,
the police must initiate the action for the protection of such couple.
Arumugam Servai v. State of T.N
The court ruled that honor killing is a breach
of a person's constitutional protections as well as a breach of civil rights.
The Supreme Court interpreted the law to say that if a couple is of majority
age, they have a statutory right to marry. The court also harshly criticized the
practice of khap panchayats taking the law into their own hands and engaging in
illegal activities that endanger the personal lives of those getting married as
per to their own preferences.[14
Shakti Vahini Case GuidelinesIn Landmark Judgement of Shakti Vahini v. Union of India and others Court
"Two consenting adults do not need the consent of their families and elders to
get married. Further, any attempt of the Khap panchayat or any other body to
suppress their wishes to marry each other is illegal.
The court observes:
Class honour, howsoever perceived cannot smother the choice of an individual which he
or she is entitled to enjoy under our compassionate constitution. Referring to
the 242nd report of the Law Commission, the SC highlighted the devastating
impact is not the only type of crime ordered by Khap panchayat. It is a part of
honour-based crimes. Any type of honour-based crime which is meant to suppress
an individual's choice to love marriage is illegal"
- The state government has been asked to identify regions where
occurrences of assassinations or Khap panchayat assemblies have been
recorded in the previous five years
- SP in certain districts are expected to be extra watchful in the event
of inter-religious or inter-caste weddings in the area.
- If a police officer becomes aware of a Khap panchayat meeting in the
vicinity, he should notify his higher officer and the DSP.
- Home dept and state government. are told to work together to educate and
inform the police agencies. All Vested interests must be included in this
process. Institutional mechanisms should be in place to cooperate with all
- If, after dealing with representatives of the Khap, the DSP has grounds
to think that the meeting cannot be avoided or that the couples would be
injured, he may refer to the DM/SDM and request a direction under Sections 144
and 151 of the CrPC.
- Failure to comply with the aforementioned directives by police or
district authorities will be regarded an act of purposeful carelessness or
misconduct, for which departmental action must be launched and completed
within 6 months.
- State govt. to make provision o 'safe houses' for such couples.
- Regardless of the precautionary steps, if the Khap panchayat issues a
judgement against a couple, a FIR should be filed.
- Trials should be completed as soon as possible in situations involving honour crimes and assault against spouses. These matters must be resolved within
six months, and this directive also applies to ongoing cases.
- Special cells and 24-hour helplines must be created.
It is time to put an end to these prevalent misconducts and time requires that
the violent and aggressive custom of Khap be abolished and the public be made
aware of their liberties since slaving for Khap in the name of honor and
heritage is nothing more than a violation of an individual's fundamental human
rights. Honour killings are a violation of various fundamental rights such as
the right to life and liberty (Article 21) Right to Equality (14) etc.
It is now
necessary for the government to make laws on such a pressing matter as Khap, as
well as for the criminal justice system to prohibit these insulting acts. As a
signatory to the Universal declaration, the ICCPR, and other treaty obligations,
India has duty for initiating a system to address this issue. However, strict
legal safeguards alone will not suffice.
This issue stems from a centuries-old
civilization with an aristocratic and authoritarian structure that can do
anything for its culture and traditions. The necessity here is not only to
modify people's mindsets today, but also to break free from old and obsolete
practices in order to avoid these unlawful behaviors. Leadership of Khap may be
ignorant senior members of the Khap community due to a lack of adaptability in
It is possible to make them work in accordance with the law by
educating them and raising their understanding of current and existing
legislation. Women's involvement should be encouraged at the national levels,
and everyone should be given a fair hearing before the Khap Panchayat makes its
final decision. This may be very beneficial in pulling about social improvements
in rural areas.
- Shobharam Sharma, "Honour Killing in India: Need for Deterrent Action", LawZ
- Azad Kumar, Honour Killings; Global Perspective 11 (Saad Publications,
- Khap panchayats — the role & history of complex social institution in
Haryana & western UP
accessed on 14 Oct 2021
- Shakti Vahini v. Union of India and others (2018) 3 SCC (Cri) Para 7.
- Khap panchayat forces Haryana couple to live as siblings
accessed on 17 Oct 2021
- After banning jeans for girls, Khap panchayat in Uttar Pradesh bars boys
from wearing shorts
accessed on 17 Oct 2021
accessed on 18 Oct 2021
- Haryana CM Khattar defends khap panchayats, calls its decisions "sensible"
accessed on October 19, 2021
- Hooda defends khap panchayats, says they do not order honour killings
accessed on 19 October 2021
- Lata vs State of UP AIR 2006 SC 2522
- Lata vs State of UP AIR 2006 SC 2522
- The Pre And Post Scenario Of Honor Killing After Manoj-Babli Case
- Pardeep vs. State of Haryana2008 (3) RCR Criminal 376.
- Arumugam Servai v. State of T.N (2011) AIR SCW 2863.
- (2018) 3 SCC (Cri) : (2018) 7 SCC 192.