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Legal experts divided over proposed honour killing law

The practice of 'honour killing' is rampant in western parts of Uttar Pradesh,Punjab and Haryana,but not many cases are reported.

Written by Agencies | New Delhi |
February 16, 2010 9:55:39 am

The Centre’s proposed amendment to the Indian Penal Code to make honour killings a “distinct offence” has evoked mixed reactions from legal experts with some backing the move and others saying there is no need for a separate law.

Law Minister M Veerappa Moily had earlier this month said that his ministry has given a go-ahead to the proposal by the Home Ministry to amend IPC and that a bill in this regard would be moved in the coming Budget session of Parliament after getting the Cabinet’s nod.

The proposal has been welcomed by some leading legal experts,saying it would attract everyone’s attention to the social evil committed in the name of saving the honour of the community,caste or family.

The practice is rampant in western parts of Uttar Pradesh,Punjab and Haryana,but not many cases are reported.

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Welcoming the proposed amendment,senior Supreme Court lawyer P N Lekhi said,”Offences like honour killing are social offences and strict laws are needed to combat them.

“Along with amending the IPC,what needs to be emphasised upon is to educate people as law alone does not act as a deterrent,” he said.

Echoing his views,another Supreme Court lawyer Shanti Bhushan said,”Making the crime a separate offence would help tackle it more effectively.” However,some legal experts believe that there is no need for a separate law and that the menace could be fought with if the existing laws are effectively implemented.

Retired Supreme Court judge Arun Kumar said the change in the IPC won’t have any affect on those practising it.

“What is required is to create awareness and to strictly and effectively implement the existing laws,” Kumar said.

“Addition of more laws is just an attempt to cover up the lacuna in our system. It will not solve the purpose,” says Supreme Court lawyer Siddharth Luthra.

Another apex court lawyer Meenakshi Lekhi concurred saying,”The pervert practise prevalent in many parts of northern India cannot be acted upon by amending the law.”

However,on the proposed amendment to treat leaders of village panchayats issuing such diktats as conspirators,almost all of the legal experts share similar views.

They feel that the existing laws are adequate to punish panchayat members as conspirators.

P N Lekhi said,”The panchayats have been over the number of years doing the same thing and under the existing law of the land they could have been tried as conspirators.”

According to Luthra,”If the police is able to provide sufficient evidence against the panchayat giving the call for killing,then the existing laws for criminal conspiracy (Section 120B of IPC) and to kill with a common intention (Sections 34 and 36 of IPC) — are strong enough to try the panchayat members as conspirators.”

Bhushan proposed that to abolish the evil completely from our society,large scale awareness drives should be launched.

The issue should be included in school syllabus and children taught about it since early age.

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