Shafiq R Khan


Honour killings shameful, must be tried as murder

Union Home Minister P Chidambaram on 29 July 2009, ruled out enactment of a new law to deal with honour killings but said the government was ready to consider whether the crime should be defined.

He said caste panchayats, which aid and abet such killings, are equally guilty and should be treated as murder accomplices.

His statement came after several MPs in the Rajya Sabha demanded enactment of a special law to deal with honour killings after several such incidents were reported recently. Speaking on a calling attention motion moved by CPM’s Brinda Karat, members also sought action against caste panchayats which often pronounce verdicts on inter-caste and inter-community marriages.

While observing that “we should hang our heads in shame when such incidents take place in India in the 21st century”, the Home Minister said honour killings “would have to be dealt with as murder”. The answer to honour killings is not to make another law, he said. “Whatever law we make, honour killing is murder. It would have to be tried as murder,” he said.

Chidambaram, however, expressed the government’s willingness to look into whether honour killing can be defined.

All crimes are defined under respective statutes.Not having a uniform definition of an offence leaves room for ambiguity for police and investigating as to what constitutes that crime. With several members demanding a special legislation on the lines of one enacted to curb sati, Chidambaram said the comparison was misplaced as sati had to be defined because it was disguised as suicide
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