Honour killings deserve capital punishment: Supreme Court


New Delhi : The Supreme Court Monday said that honour killings fell in the category of rarest of rare crimes and those committing them deserved capital punishment.

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Honour killings “are nothing but barbaric and brutal murders by bigoted persons with feudal minds”, Justices Markandey Katju and Gyan Sudha Misra said in their ruling.

“In our opinion, honour killings, for whatever reason, come within the category of rarest of rare cases deserving death punishment.

“It is time to stamp out these barbaric, feudal practices which are a slur on our nation,” the judges said.

The court said this while upholding the death sentence awarded to Bhagwan Dass, who was convicted for killing his daughter after she deserted her husband Raju and began an incestuous relationship with her uncle.

“In our opinion both the trial court and high court have given very cogent reasons for convicting the appellant, and we see no reason to disagree with their verdicts.

“There is overwhelming circumstantial evidence to show that the accused committed the crime as he felt that he was dishonoured by his daughter,” said the judgment.

Speaking for the bench, Justice Katju said: “This is necessary as a deterrent for such outrageous, uncivilized behaviour. All persons who are planning to perpetrate ‘honour’ killings should know that the gallows await them.

“There is nothing honourable in honour killings,” the judgment said.

“Often young couples who fall in love have to seek shelter in the police lines or protection homes, to avoid the wrath of kangaroo courts,” the court pointed out.

Starting his judgment with a couplet from renowned poet Mirza Ghalib (Hai maujazan ek kulzum-e-khoon kaash yahi ho, Aataa hai abhi dekhiye kya kya mere aage), Justice Katju said: “This is yet another case of gruesome honour killing, this time by the accused-appellant of his own daughter.”

The court said ‘honour’ killings had become commonplace in many parts of the country, particularly in Haryana, western Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.

“If someone is not happy with the behaviour of his daughter or other person, who is his relation or of his caste, the maximum he can do is to cut off social relations with her/him.

“But he cannot take the law into his own hands by committing violence or giving threats of violence.”