No unanimity on law against Khaps?
8 Jul 2010, 1154 hrs IST
The government on Thursday (July 8) seemed divided on the issue of a new law to tackle caste killings. Sources close to the government said that there was no unanimity within the Cabinet over the decision for a law against Khap Panchayats. The cabinet has deferred a decision on the same and will refer it to a Group of Ministers (GoM). The MHA has been instructed to seek the opinion of the States on the issue.
Speaking to the media after the Cabinet meet, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Ambika Soni confirmed that a Group of Ministers (GoM) to be set up to consider amendments to the law to deal with honour killings.
Soni added, “Views will also be sought from states to proposed amendments to IPC and CrPC to deal with honour killings.”
Against the backdrop of recent spurt in 'caste' killings, the Union Cabinet today deliberated on a bill that provides for stringent punishment for those involved in such crimes. Sources in Women and Child Development Ministry had earlier said the bill brings 'caste' killings under the definition of murder.
The Indian Evidence Act is likely be amended so as to put the onus on the accused or the khap panchayats to prove their innocence.
The Supreme Court had last month sought a response from the Centre and eight states on steps taken to prevent such incidents.
The government is set to amend the 150-year-old Indian Penal Code (IPC) to redefine the offence of murder by adding a new clause to Section 300 to classify honour killing as an act of murder. The mandatory 30 days notice required for registering marriages solmenised under the Special Marriages Act, 1954, will also be done away with. This law is mainly used to register inter-religious and inter-caste marriages. The government also proposes to amend Section 105 of the Indian Evidence Act to shift the responsibility of proving innocence on the accused in cases of honour killings.
This move from the government has been prompted after several instances of honour killings, which has been the focus of attention in the past few months.
24-year-old Sivakumar was killed and his 20-year-old lover Megala was hospitalised after a group of people, believed to be from the girl's family, attacked them with sickles. The girl has told police that she wasn't allowed to marry Sivakumar as they were related. Her father and brother have been arrested in connection with the murder.
Monica, Kuldeep and Shobha were killed in Delhi's Ashok Vihar area as the girls' families did not approve of their marriages. The family in this case had justified the murders.
A young couple Manoj (23) and Babli (19) were brutally murdered for marrying within the same caste in 2007 in Haryana. The murder was ordered by Khaps. Out of seven accused, five have been given death sentence. One has been given life sentence by a court in Karnal this year.