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Law soon to curb honour killings,says Chidambaram

Home Minister said the proposed law would identify the crimes and award punishment with 'more severity'.

Written by Agencies | New Delhi |
August 5, 2010 4:22:27 pm

Severe punishment awaits those involved in honour killings as the government intends to bring a law on the matter in the current Parliament session itself,Home Minister P Chidambaram said in Lok Sabha today.

Maintaining that such cases were bringing “dishonour to the families,the community and the country”,he said the proposed law would identify the crimes and award punishment with “more severity”.

Refraining from naming ‘khap (caste) panchayats’,he said,”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.”

Replying to a calling attention motion on the subject moved by Gurudas Dasgupta (CPI),he said the Cabinet had set up a Group of Ministers to consider a draft bill.

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“I am confident that the GoM will give its report shortly and my intention is to introduce the bill in this session itself,” he said.

Maintaining that it would be a “strong bill”,he said the proposed legislation would define honour killings and take within its sweep cases of forcing women to strip in public and externing people from villages. “Acts which are humiliating will be punished with severity.”

Strongly condemning the instances of murder of young couples married into different castes or driving them to commit suicide,he said the issue of whether it would be a stand-alone law or would amend the Indian Penal Code or the Criminal Procedure Code would be debated by the Union Cabinet.

Speaker Meira Kumar too expressed serious concern over the growing incidents saying young people were being killed by those who are supposed to love them.

“It is a dehumanising process and we have to take it very seriously,” Kumar said,as members belonging to most major parties sought stringent punishment for those involved in such

crimes including the ‘khap (caste) panchayats’.

RJD chief Lalu Prasad said an all-party meeting should be convened by the government on the “sensitive” issue involving castes. Countering him,Dasgupta asserted “criminality is criminality and cannot be condoned”.

Describing all honour killings as murders,Chidambaram said such violence was usually committed by family members and were “rooted in antiquated traditions and social values. … Moreover,it is difficult to identify or classify an ‘honour killing/crime’ … since the reasons for such killings often remain a closely guarded private family secret.”

Noting that there was no separate law at present to deal with such violence which was dealt under IPC or CrPC,he said “government is actively considering a proposal to amend the existing law or to enact a separate law” to tackle such crimes.

Chidambaram asserted that “government is not scared” of charges by some members that the government was not willing to act on such issues for “vote bank politics”.

To complaints that FIRs were not registered by police on such complaints,he said FIRs must be lodged to prosecute the criminals and added that the Home Ministry has sent advisories to state governments to take stern action.

“If the state governments are tardy,lax or remiss,it is the state governments that should be held for not being accountable,” the Home Minister said,adding that “we must look ahead and build a society of secular values and enlightened views. We are living in the 21st century”.

Gurudas Dasgupta,while seeking clarifications,said the instances of honour killings showed “criminality at its worst where mother kills her own child,father colludes and brother becomes a wild conspirator”.

Demanding strong measures to prevent “the emergence of social fascism”,the CPI leader wanted to know whether the Chief Minister of a neighbouring state is “lukewarm” to the strong action being proposed by the Home Minister because the khap panchayats control votes.

BJP leader Gopinath Munde said it was a serious matter that the caste panchayats were “running parallel legal system,giving orders and also getting their orders implemented….These panchayats want to show that their writ runs and not the government’s and that what they are doing is right”.

Besides a separate law on honour killings,Munde demanded creation of fast-track courts to deal with these cases.

Congress leader and National Commission for Women Chairperson Girija Vyas also supported the demands and said FIRs were not being registered in such cases and,whatever cases were being pursued,the conviction rate was very low.

Like Sati was treated as murder,honour killings should also be treated in the same manner. Shailendra Kumar (SP) also supported the contentions.

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