A bill was passed in the Rajasthan Assembly on Monday to curb incidents of ‘honour killing’ in the State with the provision of punishment of death penalty or life imprisonment for murdering couples in the name of family honour.
The Rajasthan Prohibition of Interference with the Freedom of Matrimonial Alliances in the Name of Honour and Tradition Bill, 2019 was passed by a voice vote.
The Bill was introduced in the House last week by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Shanti Dhariwal.
Replying to the debate on the Bill, Mr. Dhariwal said that Sections of the IPC and the CrPc were not adequate in dealing with such cases so the Bill was moved. “It has been introduced so that people overcome the narrow mindset.”
He said that in the Past five years in the state, 71 cases of illegal diktat given by ‘Khap Panchayats’ (caste councils which function like kangaroo courts) were registered and 10 cases of honour killing occurred in which four men and eight women were killed. “Such cases have increased in the past few years and have become hurdle in societal development,” Mr. Dhariwal said.
Opposition members termed the Bill a blow to the culture and societal norms and demanded it be sent to a select committee and for public opinion, which was rejected by the Speaker.
“The bill is directionless,” said deputy leader of Opposition Rajendra Rathore.
Mr. Rathore and BJP legislator Madan Dilawar raised objection to the term ‘sangotra’ (same blood) used in the Bill and said that the government was pushing the society into darkness.
Mr. Dhariwal said he has already moved a resolution to delete the word ‘sangotra’ from the Bill.
Provisions of the Bill
The Bill provisions punishment of death penalty or life imprisonment till natural death for killing a couple or either of them in the name of honour.
The Bill says, “Whoever causes death of a couple or either of them on the basis that marriage of such couple has dishonoured, or brought disrepute to the caste, community or family shall be punished with death, or with imprisonment for life, which shall mean imprisonment for the remainder of that person’s natural life, and with fine which may extend to ₹5 lakh.”
If the couple or either of them is grievously hurt, the punishment will be from 10 years rigorous imprisonment to imprisonment for life and with fine of maximum ₹3 lakh, whereas the punishment will be three to five years imprisonment with fine which may extend to ₹2 lakh in case of simple injuries, it says.
According to the Bill, Sub Divisional Magistrate or the District Magistrate shall receive any request or information from any person or persons seeking protection from any unlawful assembly, or from any other person who is likely to or who have been objecting to any lawful marriage.
It says no person or group shall assemble at any time with the view or intention to deliberate on or condemn any marriage, not prohibited by law, on the basis that such marriage has dishonoured the caste or community tradition or brought disrepute to all or any of the persons forming part of the assembly or the family or the people of the locality concerned.
Such gathering shall be treated unlawful and every person convening or organising such assembly, and every member, thereof, participating therein directly or indirectly shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term not less than six months, but may extend to five years and shall also be liable to fine which may extend to ₹1 lakh.
“There has been a spurt in illegal intimidation by self-appointed bodies for bringing pressure against ‘sagotra’ marriages and inter-caste, inter-community and inter-religious marriages between two consenting adults in the name of vindicating the honour of family, caste or community,” says the objective of the Bill.
“Although, such intimidation or acts of violence constitute offences under the Indian Penal Code, yet, it is necessary to prevent assemblies which take place to condemn such alliances as also to punish such acts of violence and criminal intimidation severely,” it adds.