Perturbed at ‘honour killings' in parts of the country and the government decision to refer the issue of a law to deal with the crime to a Group of Ministers (GoM), the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has urged the Centre to expedite the legislation.
Emphasising that the issue of a separate law to deal with the “retrograde assaults and violent action against young adults” had been pending for long, Polit Bureau member and MP Brinda Karat said referring it to the GoM would further delay the process, and requested Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to place the draft law before Parliament in the monsoon session. In a letter to Dr. Singh, she said: “It is a great disappointment to all democratic minded citizens in this country who are appalled at the retrograde assaults and violent action against young adults who assert their constitutionally and legally protected rights for self-choice marriage/relationships. They had expected the Central government not to procrastinate any further and to take steps to ensure an adequate legal framework to address this increasing crime and to bring some relief to affected couples.” The country was not aware that in some States where this crime was taking place, there were political considerations at work to downplay its magnitude, an attempt by those in office to defend the action of self-styled caste panchayats in the name of tradition.
“You will agree that to put vote bank politics over the requirements of those in office to uphold the rights granted by the Constitution is abhorrent. Yet this is being done. Delays on the part of the Central government to decide on a firm course of action in setting up a legal framework strengthen the perception that it is caused by the pressure of vote bank politics.”
Ms. Karat said she had drawn attention to the issue through a short-duration discussion in the Rajya Sabha in July last year, and parties across the political divide supported the suggestion for a separate law to deal with the range of so-called honour crimes.
Highlighting the various dimensions of these crimes, she said these included absence of a definition of ‘honour' crime, the role of caste panchayats, the role of the girl's family because of which “often there is no complainant in the case of the disappearance of the girl when she has actually been murdered which necessitates the mandatory role of state intervention, monitoring and investigation, the role of the law enforcement agencies acting in connivance with the perpetrators of the crime and so on.”
There was a flaw in the understanding of those charged with addressing the crime, and hence the misconceived piecemeal attempts at a legal framework. “What is required is a firm decision by the government for a separate law, the draft of which may be placed in Parliament in the coming session,” she said.