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 Rule of Law
 
‘Honour’ killing?
The Indian Express, India Sunday, September 12, 2010

Soli J. Sorabjee
It is plain murder to kill a person for marrying within the same gotra or outside one’s caste or community.Such practices are repugnant to one’s elementary sense of fairness, similar to infanticide or Sati system. We need a specific law criminalising this evil practice, providing stiff penalties and also making the offence non-bailable. States must act firmly and promptly ignoring electoral and political considerations, writes Soli J. Sorabjee in The Indian Express.

Intentional killing of a person for marrying within the same gotra or outside one’s caste or community is plain murder. When this dastardly deed is called ‘honour killing’—a cruel misnomer—I sigh with the poet that, “The purity of language is defiled. The meanings have turned traitor in the night”.

The Chief Minister of Haryana is reported to have said that customs and practices are above the law and the Constitution. That is pure constitutional heresy as will be apparent from a bare reading of Article 13(1)(3)(a) of the Constitution under which any custom or practice or usage which is violative of a fundamental right is illegal and null and void. That apart, such practices are repugnant to one’s elementary sense of fairness. For example, there is the practice of infanticide which is restored to in certain communities. Surely, the murder of an infant is not above the law and can be prohibited and penalised.

...

The fact that ‘honour killing’ is a crime punishable under one or more provisions of the IPC is not a valid argument against the enactment of a special law to extirpate this practice as in the case of sati. We need a specific law criminalising this evil practice, providing stiff penalties and also making the offence non-bailable. States must act firmly and promptly ignoring electoral and political considerations.

Recently, there has been a deluge of autobiographies and memoirs by eminent lawyers, former Speaker of the Lok Sabha and others. They make interesting reading, yet, lack the element of frankness and disclosure of events or affairs which might dent the image of the autobiographer. An understandable tendency of an autobiographer is to selectively conceal rather than courageously reveal. But there are exceptions.

...

Multitude of ills, including Mother Nature’s fury, plague the Commonwealth Games. There are doping scandals, scams stinking of corruption, incompetence, negligence et al. These should be looked into and dealt with severely at the appropriate time. Today, our single objective should be to ensure success of the Games and thereby maintain the image of our country. The media is undoubtedly entitled to expose the various acts of commission and omission but may abstain from sensationalism and creating a demoralising atmosphere of defeatism. Our signature tune at present must be “Yes, it can be done and it shall be done”. Mohsin Menezes, one of India’s finest jazz musicians, as a national service may well compose a rousing lyric on that theme to boost up our morale. Capital Jazz will lend its wholehearted support.

 

This article was published in the The Indian Express on Sunday, September 12, 2010. Please read the original article here.
Author : Mr Sorabjee is a former attorney general for India
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