Supreme Court upholds accused’s conviction in honor killing case

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It is high time that civil society reacted and reacted with strong disapproval of the horrific crimes committed in the name of the caste, the Supreme Court noted while upholding the conviction of the defendants in an honor killing case.

The three bench judges comprising Judges L. Nageswara Rao, Sanjiv Khanna and BR Gavai observed that the instructions issued in Shakti Vahini v. Union of India to take strong action to prevent honor killings should be executed by state governments without further delay.

These episodes of caste-motivated violence in the country demonstrate the fact that casteism has not been annihilated even after 75 years of independence, the court added.

In this case, Roshni, daughter of Ganga Ram, escaped with Vijendra on March 21, 1991. This infuriated people in the Jat community. The accused and other members of the Panchayat announced the unanimous opinion of the Panchayat that Vijendra and Ram Kishan should be hanged to death. They were taken to a “banyan tree” and the parents of the three young people were forced to tighten the noose around their children’s necks. Vijendra and Ram Kishan’s parents were physically assaulted when they refused to hang their children and were eventually forced to hang them by force by putting their hands on the ropes and pulling on them.

The lower court found most of the defendants guilty and sentenced to death. On appeal, the High Court upheld the conviction, but commuted the death penalty to life imprisonment until the last breath.

While upholding the judgment of the High Court, the court made the following observations:

Sectarianism perpetuated by caste-based practices is still prevalent today

39. Two young men and a woman were physically assaulted for nearly 12 hours and killed by the accused for violating caste social norms. These episodes of caste-motivated violence in the country demonstrate the fact that castism has not been annihilated even after 75 years of independence. According to Dr. BR Ambedkar, intercast marriage is a remedy to get rid of casteism in order to achieve equality. Its vision to ensure justice and equality to all sections of society, especially repressed segments, is well enshrined in the preamble to the Constitution. The sectarianism perpetuated by such caste-based practices that still prevail today, hinders this Constitution’s goal of equality for all its citizens. Roshni who belongs to the Jat community, to Vijendra who is a Jatav, resulted in their death. Although the number is a little less, honor killings have not stopped in this country and it is high time for civil society to react and respond with strong disapproval to the horrific crimes committed in the name of caste. This Court has issued several instructions to administrative authorities and police officers to take decisive action to prevent honor killings. Honor killings under Khap Panchayats’ decree were strongly criticized by this Court in Arumugam Servai v. State of Tamil Nadu. Severe punishment was recommended to those brutal and feudal people who commit atrocities in the name of the castes.

Report of the Law Commission

The tribunal further noted that the Law Commission of India, in its 242nd report, suggested the legal framework on the prevention of interference in the freedom of matrimonial alliances in the name of honor and tradition. The bench observed:

“The Law Commission was of the opinion that there must be a threshold bar against the congregation or assembly for the purpose of opposing and condemning the conduct of young persons of marrying age as they choose, the ground for objection being that they belong to the same gotra or to different castes or communities. Panchayatdars or caste elders do not have the right to interfere with the life and liberty of these young couples whose marriages are permitted by law and they cannot create a situation in which these couples are placed in a hostile environment in the village / locality concerned and exposed to a security risk. The Legal Commission further recommended that gathering even for an unlawful purpose, namely to disapprove of marriage which is otherwise within the limits of the law and to take action accordingly, be treated as an offense as it may endanger the marriage. life and freedoms of the persons concerned

41. In order to implement the recommendations of the Law Commission in its 242nd report, the State of Rajasthan enacted the Prohibition of Interference with Freedom of Marriage Alliances Act 2019 in the name of honor. and tradition, 2019 in the same direction. In the interest of the freedom and dignity of young men and women in choosing their life partners and in the interest of peace, tranquility and equality in society, it is absolutely necessary that the directions issued by this Court in Shakti Vahini v. Union of India and Ors. (supra) should also be carried out by state governments without further delay

The court noted that in the UK and Canada, racially and religiously motivated crimes are treated as aggravating factors for a heightened sentence.

The court observed that the gruesome murders of three young people which are honor killings fall squarely within the antisocial and heinous nature of the crime, as mentioned in Machhi Singh v. State of Punjab. But the court noted that the High Court commuted the death sentence taking into account the advanced age of some of the appellants, the long delay after the commission of the crime and the mental suffering they suffered. Noting this aspect, the judiciary rejected the appeals lodged by the State against the commutation of the death penalty.

Case name: Hari v State of Uttar Pradesh

Reference: LL 2021 SC 685

Case n ° and date: CrA 186 of 2018 | November 26, 2021

Coram: Judges L. Nageswara Rao, Sanjiv Khanna and BR Gavai

Consulting: Adv Amita Gupta

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