Friday, July 9, 2010

[ZESTCaste] Khap bill hits legal hurdle in Cabinet

Khap bill hits legal hurdle in Cabinet

PM Refers Bill To GoM To Explore A Separate Law Against Honour Killings

Dhananjay Mahapatra | TNN

New Delhi: The Union Cabinet on Thursday referred a standalone law to
deal with "honour killings" to a group of ministers, after several
members found fault with the proposal to amend the existing law to
deal with the menace.
  The GoM will submit its recommendation after getting inputs from
states in the next 3-4 weeks so that a bill designed to deter "honour
killings" can be introduced, as planned, in Parliament during the
month-long monsoon session beginning on July 26.
  Prime Minister Manmohan Singh decided to refer it to a GoM after
several ministers questioned the efficacy of the home ministry-drafted
bill, which proposed slapping murder charges on all those participting
in khap panchayats' decisions to kill couples marrying against social
  The objections raised by ministers with sound legal background were
not about the desirability of treating connivance and support for
khap's sanction for "honour killings" as murder, liable to be punished
with death penalty. The resistance was more because of doubts that the
objective could be best served by amending Section 300 of IPC to
include participation in khap's calls for "honour killings" as an
additional criterion of what constitutes murder. Members of the
Cabinet like HRD minister Kapil Sibal, highways minister Kamal Nath
and sports minister M S Gill expressed doubts that the proposal in the
draft Indian Penal Code and Certain Other Laws (Amendment) Bill was
the best way to go about the task.
  However, as the PM acknowledged the need for wider consultation and
decided to send the matter to a GoM, his colleagues like information
minister Ambika Soni, urban development minister Jaipal Reddy
stresssed that government could not afford to be seen as doing nothing
in response to a problem that has, while revulsing many sections,
threatened to become a trend and could inspire copycat crimes.
  The emphasis was necessary in view of the impression, generated by
support for and ambivalence over "honour killings" by those like
Congress MP Navin Jindal, that sections of the political class may be
sympathetic of khaps viewing inter-caste and intragotra marriages as
"dishonour" to the community.
  In the meeting of the Cabinet, ministers with a legal background,
like Sibal, questioned the desirability of the home ministry's
proposal to add "fifthly" clause to Section 300 saying that the most
it could achieve was to make the participants in a "honour killing"
decision liable as conspirators or abettors of the murder.
  Gill termed it as impractical, Kamal Nath said all options needed
to be explored and the approach should be cautious, pointing out that
while people may turn out for a meeting of the caste panchayat, they
may not have any role in the decision taken by the body. Why not make
a law that would punish a politician if he participated in khap
panchayats or supported their views — was one of the arguments that
was put up during the discussions to drive home the point on the
"political will of the state governments" to deal with the social


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