Centre to SC: New law to deal with honour killings by khap panchayats

New Delhi: The Centre informed the Supreme Court that it would soon enact a legislation to make ‘honour killings’ at the hands of khap panchayts as a cognisable offence and to deal with this menace with an iron hand.
Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand, made this submission before a Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A.M. Kanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud hearing a PIL filed by Shakti Vahini seeking court intervention to prevent honour killings of couples of inter caste marriages. Taking on record the affidavit filed by the Centre, the Bench reserved its verdict on the PIL.
During the last hearing the court had observed that ‘khap panchayats’ cannot play the role of “conscience keeper of the society” and take law into their hands and asked the Centre to step in to protect such couples from khaps. The bench told the counsel “where two consenting adults agree to enter into matrimony, no individual rights, group rights or collective rights shall interfere therein or harass couple. You don’t have to play the conscience keeper of the society. Law and courts will take care of all relationships. Whether it is parents, society or anyone, they are out of it.”
In its response the Centre said the Law Commission of India has prepared the proposed Bill “The Prohibition of Interference with Freedom of Matrimonial Alliance Bill” and 23 States had sent their comments to the Bill. The remaining states had sought time for giving their comments.
The Centre said pending legislation the court should issue directions, viz. no person or assembly of persons (khap panchayats) or family members shall harass, torture, subject to violence, threaten, intimidate or cause harm to any couple wishing to get married by their own choice or couple who have got married and any person committing such act shall be criminally prosecuted.
The Centre said it shall be the duty of the State police to take prompt action to prevent any such crime and they must protect the couples under the fear of physical annihilation by housing them in protection home or by any other means as they may deem fit. If a crime is committed, it shall be the duty of the investigating officer to take appropriate action to register a case against the offenders.

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