Judgement: Death Penalty for Honour Killing

March 31, 2010

Sushma Tiwary went on to protest along with AIDWA, when Supreme Court commuted the death penalty for her brother into a prison term of 25 years.

She said, “Even if not for my own safety or that of my five-year-old daughter Trishna, the death sentence must be upheld for the sake of humanity.”

Hindu reports,

It has been a six-year legal battle for Sushma against the horrific ‘honour killing' by her brother of almost her entire marital family: husband Prabhu Nochil, her father-in-law and two minors in their home near Mumbai, all to avenge her marriage into a family of a ‘lower' caste. Sushma is from a Brahmin family of UP, and Prabhu, an Ezhava from Kerala.

In 2004, seven months after the couple got married, her Brother Dilip and his associates massacred four members of the Nochil family, and grievously injured two others. A pregnant Sushma luckily escaped as she was visiting a relative.
There are less than hundred honour killing in India every year. However, the number of people, who are oppressed by the village clans, will run into millions. To eliminate these adherent social practices, in certain parts of north India, the courts must conduct a trial in a fast track court in 6 months and if convicted sentence the convicts to death. The news of death penalty must be put in 100 villages around these clans so that people get the message.

However, Supreme Court gave reasons to revoke the death sentence.(link)
The court termed it a case of“abhorrent caste crime” and showed leniency, saying, “If he [the girl’s brother Dilip] became victim of his wrong but genuine caste considerations, it would not justify the death sentence”.

Justice VS Sirpurkar and justice Deepak Verma also said it wasn’t a rarest of rare case. “The murders were the outcome of a social issue like a marriage with a person of so-called lower caste. However, time has come when we have to consider these social issues relevant while considering death sentence in such circumstances,” they said.

The Court also said: “It is a common experience that when the younger sister commits something unusual and in this case it was an inter-caste, intercommunity marriage out of [a] secret love affair, then in society it is the elder brother who justifiably or otherwise is held responsible for not stopping such [an] affair.”

People must write mails and letters to law minister demanding Supreme Court to uphold death penalty for honour killing. Supreme Court must not give leniency to murderers with the excuse of “unusual” inter caste marriages.

There is no need for any special law for these murders. Honour killings should be considered the rarest of rare cases and death penalty should be awarded. P.Chidambaram rightly said, “There is no need to enact a special law to deal with the heinous crime which is committed with the sole motive of caste, P Chidambaram said, asserting that section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code was enough of a deterrent.”

Now Supreme Court has to create the deterrence.

Just yesterday, Haryana State High Court awarded death penalty for 5 people for honour killing of a couple in 2007. Now, it is up to Supreme Court to make sure that lessons are learn in the regressive sections of some societies in north India.

IBNLIVE Reports, (Read complete article)

The court in Karnal declared the quantum of punishment for the six people who were found guilty of killing the young couple – Manoj and Babli - for marrying outside their gotra (sub-caste) three years ago.

All the five who have been given the death sentence are relatives of the girl, Babli. They include her brother Suresh, cousins Gurdev and Satish, uncles Baru Ram and Rajender.

The khap (caste) panchayat leader Ganga Ram got life sentence while the driver, who was held guilty of kidnapping, was give a jail term of seven years.
Manoj's sibling, who had been waging a lonely battle to get justice, were elated with the decision.

Manoj's sister Seema said that though she was happy with the verdict and the sentencing but wanted even Ganga Ram to be given the death penalty."I am very happy but the life sentence to Ganga Ram is not justified. Even he should have been given death penalty. We have asked the High Court for security cover. As of now there is a lot of police in the village. The decision of the panchayat was not justified and people should not to allowed to misuse their power. We have fought this battle alone. The society or family did not support us. There was a lot of pressure on us to take back the case. The accused even tried to bribe us to take back the case," she said.

If couple of people are hanged till death for honour killing in a year or two, then these well planned murders will come to an end. These killings are not just murder of two people, but they are the means to terrorize an entire population in villages against breaking caste and clan barriers.

Sumanth is an Indian Men's Rights Activist.
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