As we are in the 21st century, there is a change in the thinking of the people as a result of India’s inclination towards westernization and education, but it is not possible to underestimate the significance of caste and religion in Indian culture. These two systems have been popular since ancient times which divide people into separate communities and foster enmity and conflict amongst diverse socioeconomic classes. The biggest issue in Indian society is caste segregation, not class division. In today’s world also, marriages between two individuals who are of different castes and religions are socially unwelcome and challenging. There is a cultural stigma attached to every such union that keeps the partners from thriving. If two partners marry against the wishes of their family, they have to give the cost of their life named honor killing. This prohibits two individuals from their liberty to choose partners of their own will. Caste and religious discrimination have stymied India’s growth. For thousands of years, the caste system and religion have separated Indian society. It would take several years to abolish the caste system in Indian society since it is so deeply ingrained.
Honor Killing is the traditional practice of murdering a girl by family members who have married against the wishes of their family members or marrying outside their caste and religion. The refusal of women to engage in an arranged marriage or the pursuit of a divorce or separation even from an abusive husband—are just a few of the reasons why a woman can be the victim of a murderous attack. This is considered to be against morality by her family members. An attack may be initiated by the mere idea that a woman has behaved in a way that would harm her family’s reputation; these presumptions are not based on facts but on men’s emotions and perceptions only. This most often happens in patriarchal societies where the activities of girls are closely scrutinized, where male members decide everything for the women of their families. It is believed that a woman’s father, siblings, and eventually spouse are responsible for upholding her virginity and sexual purity. Ironically, female relatives frequently justify the crimes and sporadically assist in their execution. The mentality of people in patriarchal societies, who are unwilling to accept the reality that their children can marry in line with their own choices, whether those choices are within or outside of their caste or religion, is the main factor contributing to this horrible crime. Sometimes it is not just about caste or religion; in certain instances, a family would murder members just because they do not want to be associated with love marriages. This is often justified and encouraged by various communities. It is primarily a gender-based crime that has historically been used to maintain patriarchal domination over women in society. This does not imply, however, that man is immune to all effects of this evil. Men are also occasionally killed, often because they engage in homosexual behavior or refuse to enter into arranged marriage. However, there are several instances of daughters, daughters-in-law, wives, etc. being slaughtered, usually for reasons.
KHAP PANCHAYATS AND HONOR KILLINGS
Khap panchayat is the union of a small number of villages, primarily in north India, though it also occurs in other parts of the nation in a similar format. Recently, they have developed into quasi-judicial organizations that impose severe penalties based on ancient traditions and conventions, frequently approaching retroactive solutions to contemporary issues. In the village, they resolve disagreements. No one is permitted to marry outside of their caste in Khap panchayats, which adhere to the endogamy concept. The Khap Panchayat initially adhered to accepted values and politically suitable resolutions. The sphere of marriage, however, is currently regarded as the most important tradition. The village’s boy and girl are not permitted to wed outside of their kin. The residents of the Khap panchayat took matters into their own hands and engaged in illegal activities if they failed to adhere to the customs and rules. This is entirely illegal and must be mercilessly suppressed, Justices Markandya Katju and Gyan Sudha Mishra declared in a case, Bhagwan Dass v. State (NCT of Delhi). There is no honor in an honor killing, which is barbarous and feudal conduct that is a disgrace to our society. These crimes against humanity that interfere with people’s personal life require severe penalties. The use of severe penalties can deter filthy thinking and savage behavior. Furthermore, these actions that violate the law are regarded as kangaroo courts and are forbidden.
VIOLATION OF THE INDIAN CONSTITUTION
Honor killing is the most serious crime and a blatant violation of constitutional rights and regulations. The most significant document defending Indian citizens’ rights is the Indian Constitution. According to Articles 14 and 15 of the Indian Constitution, all people of India should be treated equally before the law regardless of their caste, creed, sex, ethnicity, or religion. However, in the case of Honor Killings, it is more frequently perpetrated against female family members than against male family members, proving that there is no equality before the law. Gender inequality is violated when a woman is murdered. The right to freedom, life and living with dignity are covered by Articles 19 and 21, respectively, of the Indian Constitution. Honor killings violate both of a person’s rights. Each individual is free to choose their life partner. Nobody has the right to take away these rights, even the law.
RELATED LEGAL PROVISION
Crimes of murder and culpable homicide not amounting to murder are punishable under Sections 299 – 304. Murder carries a sentence of life in prison, the death penalty, and a fine. The penalty for a culpable homicide that is not murder is either life in prison or a maximum of ten years in jail, as well as a fine. Threatening to kill is punishable under Section 307 by up to 10 years in prison and a fine. The penalty might go up to life in jail if someone is hurt. In addition, Section 308 says that attempting to commit culpable homicide is punishable by up to three years in jail, a fine, or both. The offender faces a maximum 7-year prison sentence, a fine, or both if it results in harm. Crimes of murder and culpable homicide are punishable under Sections 107 -116. Anyone who takes part in a criminal plot is subject to punishment under Sections 120A and 120B. Sections 34 and 35 multiple-person illegal conduct that supports a common intention.
The caste system in India should be abolished starting with this. This alteration in marriage practices is a relatively new phenomenon brought on by the modernization of the Indian economy, social progress, and globalization. The prevalence of inter-caste marriages in India is influenced by social and demographic factors. The trend of inter-caste marriages varies a lot around the globe. With increased modernity and social advancement, it is expected that intercaste marriages will become more common. Such marriages must be praised, given media attention, and promoted to break down the caste barrier that exists in Indian culture. Since there is no specific law in India addressing the crime of honor killing, Indian courts use provisions of the Indian Penal Code to try these cases, which has been determined to be insufficient. Numerous recommendations on the introduction of new, distinct laws against honor killing have been made, but the legislature has not yet been able to pass any such laws. Given that honor killing has been practiced for centuries and that legislators may have believed that passing new legislation to outlaw it would cause social unrest, the sentimental nature of the society’s members may be to blame for the lack of new laws or regulations. Nevertheless, despite the unrest, the honor killing system needs to be abolished for society to move past the thousands of deaths that have been attributed to this custom. Furthermore, it poses a challenge to the fundamental rights guarantees made by the Indian Constitution.
Author(s) Name: Bhumika Grover (Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law)