The Centre is considering a proposal to either amend legal provisions or enact a law to tackle ‘honour' killings, Home Minister P. Chidambaram said on Thursday.
Replying to a call-attention motion in the Lok Sabha on the spurt in the crime, he said a Group of Ministers was constituted to consider a draft bill. “At present, there is no separate law to deal with the problem; it is dealt with under the provisions of the Indian Penal Code or the Criminal Procedure Code. The government intends to bring a law on the matter in the current Parliament session itself.”
“Honour” killings were bringing “dishonour to the families, the community and the country,” he said, and the proposed law would identify the crime and award punishment with “more severity.” “Whoever is the cause of the crime, an individual or a collective, must be punished. My duty is to ensure that laws adopted by Parliament are obeyed and enforced. Once the law is made, it must be enforced. Those involved must be punished.”
Mr. Chidambaram said the “strong [draft] bill” would define what constituted ‘honour' killings and cover cases of women being forced to strip in public and people being ostracised from villages.
Speaker Meira Kumar, too, expressed serious concern at the growing incidents of the crime, saying young people were being killed by those who were supposed to love them. “It is a dehumanising process, and we have to take it very seriously,” she said, as members belonging to major parties sought stringent punishment for those involved in such crimes, including ‘khap panchayats.'
Rashtriya Janata Dal president Lalu Prasad urged the government to convene an all-party meeting on the “sensitive” issue involving castes.
Mr. Chidambaram said the government attached high importance to violence against women, including “honour” killings.
Since police and public order were State subjects, the Ministry of Home Affairs had sent a detailed advisory in September last to all the States and Union Territories, asking them to review the effectiveness of the machinery tackling violence against women, and to take measures to curb the violation of women's rights by ‘honour' killings.
However, he pointed out that “honour” killing was not a crime classified separately under the laws and no data about this crime was collected by the National Crime Records Bureau.
“Difficult to classify”
Moreover, it was difficult to identify and classify an “honour” killing in any given community, since the reasons often remained a closely guarded matter.
Gurudas Dasgupta (CPI), while seeking clarifications, said instances of “honour” killings showed criminality at its worst, with mother killing her own child in collusion with father, and brother turning a wild conspirator.
BJP leader Gopinath Munde said the caste panchayats were “running a parallel legal system, giving orders and getting their orders implemented.”
“Conviction rate low”
Chairperson of the National Commission for Women Girija Vyas said First Information Reports were not being registered in such cases, and in cases that were pursued the conviction rate was very low.