Fruits of caste politics: Khaps, honour killings- The New Indian Express

Human is a social animal. He spends his life with the association of another human being and strives for happiness. But eons ago the civilized society attached a lot of sanctity to the word “honour”. The value of honor in our society can be traced back to the Mythological story of Lord Ram, where even the “Sita” was not accepted by society. Reputation has always been chosen over happiness. Honour, shame, insult have become the ideal notions of society today. Honour killing is a cruel act; the society never hesitates, whenever an attempt is made to disrupt the social order. Honour killing is a cultural crime. The community kills innocent youth for the sake of the reputation of a family or clan. Honour killing is a misnomer as there is nothing about honour in this cruel act and used to mitigate this crime.

What Are The Factors Which Promote  Honour Killing ?

The Socio-cultural Dimensions of society have led to an increase in instances of honour killing. The concept of honor and shame is very crucial to some Indian families. Most of the cases of honour killing are reported from rural or backward areas. Due to lack of education, and backwardness, most of the families kill their own youth for the sake of false dignity of the clan or family. In India, the existence of the caste system also leads to the killing in the name of honour. Sometimes kills the women for bringing dishonor to gain economic benefits. Changing the cultural and economic status of women may also be one of the reasons for honour killing.

Are The Laws Competent Enough to Stamp Down The Evil of Honour Killing?

There are no specific laws in our country that deal with this brutal crime. This is not openly comprehended by the laws of criminology or victimology. This is the main reason for the existence of this crime in the roots of our society. It is dealt with now as murder or culpable homicide under the Indian Penal Code, 1860. But is it enough to consider it as a murder? It is beyond the crime of murder as the innocents are being killed for false pride. It is the crime against humanity. So it violates the basic human rights of a human being.


This crime is the direct violation of the basic right to equality, right to freedom, and the right to life as enshrined in our Constitution. The right to life is also an essential element of human rights. But are the prevalent laws competent enough to stamp down the evil of honour killing? Despite these laws, the instances of honour killing are increasing rapidly. The reasons behind it may the improper implementation of laws. Most of the cases of honour killing in India are not traceable. Because generally the family members are involved in the crime and it is impossible to collect the piece of evidence and trace the culprit. And, the police also show a failure to play an important role in these cases because of shoddy investigation. There is a lack of direct application of penal laws on the illegal acts of these caste assemblies.

Judicial Response:

The Supreme Court in the case of ‘Lata Singh vs State of U.P’ brings its concern over this issue. The court held that, the instances of threat, cruelty, and harassment against the man and woman who marry outside their caste id illegal. And, the violators must be punished with severe punishment.
In a recent judgment of “Shakti Vahini vs UOI (2018),” the Supreme Court enumerates various the punitive, remedial and, preventive steps to curb this evil. The Court directs the states to implement these steps and prevent the orders made by Khap Panchayat of honour killing. The Supreme Court said that the class honour cannot curtail the choice of an individual, which is provided under our Constitution.


The need of the hour is to make the laws stringent to curb the evil of honour killing from our society. The laws should be strong enough to protect one’s right to life and liberty. While introducing laws the legislature must keep in mind the steps suggested by SC in Shakti Vahini case.

The states and districts should identify the areas which have a high rate of honour killing. And, if the information is received from a meeting of a Khap Panchayat, the police officials should interact with the members and asked them to disperse it as it is illegal. The police must make investigate whether it is appropriate to arrest the parties, in the case of F.I.R filed by parents against the runaway couples. The police must arrest the participants of honour killing without any exception. And, if there is any involvement of Khap Panchayat, the members must be booked for conspiracy and abetment.

The legislature also proposed to amend the IPC, Evidence, and Special Marriage Act. The legislature proposed to introduce a clause “fifth” to punish the murder in the name of reputation. Under section 105 of the Evidence Act, it recommended to lay down the burden of proof on the Khap Panchayat to prove its innocence. But the division in cabinet leads to the lapse of the bill.

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