Honour killing: Killing for honour or Killing their honour ?

Author- Purnima Vashishtha, GLC, Mumbai

Manali Kumari, Bhartiya Vidyapeeth, New Delhi

Vanshika Gupta, VIPS, GGSIPU, New Delhi

Niharika Mukherjee, University of Calcutta

Editor- Rahul Kumar Roy, Manipal University Jaipur


The "Honour Killing" is the assassination of a family member due to the victimizer's belief that the sufferer has brought humiliation or disgrace upon the family or has contravened the philosophy of faith and credence in their community. Honour Killing, most frequently, is the killing of a girl or woman by the male members of a family. The murderers advocate their execution by corroborating the fact that the sufferer has brought disgrace upon the reputation of the family, clan, and their community. The sufferers of honour killings customarily are rumored to have involved themselves in various "venereal evil" activities.

This Article endeavors to throw photons on the social outrage and legislations of honor killing, right to choose, and right to be left alone, the International perspective and case study which shook the entire nation.


Honor Killing is not only confined to India but it is one of the most disputable issues across the world. It has been unrestrained in conservative and culturally rewarded classes in many countries including India, Turkey, Jordan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and as well as the Palestinian territories. In an announcement by Turkey's Human Rights Directorate in June 2008 it was stated that in Istanbul on average there is one honor killing every week and above 1000 were murdered in the course of the last five years. According to Amnesty International, honor killings are the most common in Pakistan. The latest report by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) states that 647 women were murdered in the name of "honor" in 2007 which was more by 13% from 2008 when 574 such murdered were reported.

''Honor killings'' are antagonistic by United Nations General Assembly Resolution which was adopted in 2000 and successive aspirations which have been generated diverse reports.

Even the World Health Organization (WHO) communicated about the issue of honor killings and said that killing of women to 'save the family honor' are among the most dreadful ramification and obvious demonstration of embedded, ethically accepted differentiation against woman and girls.

Laws in India

We don't have any dedicated codified law for 'honor killings'. However, there are several provisions in the law which penalizes those who commit the heinous crime of honour killing.

The act of honor killing is not only a violation of human rights but also of constitutional rights. The Constitution of India confers upon its citizens Right to freedom and Right to Life under Article 19 and 21 respectively. Honor killing is a blatant violation of these rights.

Though there is no tailor-made law or provisions made specifically for the act of honor killing, the act is seen and considered as culpable homicide and murder therefore it penalizes the offender under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. Section 299-304, 307, 308, 123A, and B, 107-116, 34, and 35 under the IPC are some of the most relevant sections which are used to punish those who commit this horrendous crime.

Under the Indian Majority Act, 1857, a person who is a citizen of India attains the age of majority after completion of 18 years. The right to marry is a facet of Right to life under article 21 of the constitution. A person who is major, wanting to get married to a person of another caste or inter-community is not prohibited by law and any honour killings initiated on this ground is unlawful and to be initiated severe measures (Surjit Kumar v. State of Uttar Pradesh & Ors, 2002 (456) ACC 79)[1]

In August 2019, Rajasthan Assembly passed the Rajasthan Prohibition of Interference with the Freedom of Matrimonial Alliances in the Name of Honour and Tradition Bill 2019, making it the first state to have a special law for honour killings. The bill provides the provision of death penalty or life imprisonment till natural death for killing a couple or either of them in the name of honour.

Judicial Precedence

Honour Killings have been carried out for over centuries amongst a wide spectrum of ethnic and religious groups in India. However, it can be observed that Courts through their judgments have always instated that killing anyone in the name of 'honour' is the violation of the constitution and anyone going against the constitution shall be punished.

In a landmark and historic judgment, the Karnal Sessions Court, in March 2010, dictated the execution of five perpetrators in an 'honour killing' case of Manoj and Babli and awarded the head of khap panchyat, who ordered the killings with the punishment of life sentence. The young couple, who were the segments of the same clan had eloped and married in June. Subsequently, their slashed bodies were found a week later near the canal by Kheri Chowki police. [1] In its verdict, District Judge Vani Gopal Sharma stated that "This court has gone through sleepless nights and tried to put itself in the shoes of the offenders and think as to what might have prompted them to take such a step as well as the khap panchayats have functioned contrary to the constitution, ridiculed it and have become a law unto themselves"[2] This was the first court judgement convicting khap panchayats and giving capital punishment to the accused.

In the case of Smt. Laxmi Kachawaha v. The State of Rajasthan[3], the Supreme Court of India opined that 'Khap Panchayat have no rights to pass any social boycott order, or to impose fine on anyone and to violate the fundamental rights of an individual. Furthermore, it ordered the state authorities to exercise their power to prevent people from such panchayats and ensures the arrest and punishments of its members.'

In a recent landmark judgement[4], the court opined that "..When the ability to choose is crushed in the name of class honour and the person's physical frame is treated with absolute indignity, a chilling effect dominates over the brains and bones of the society at large."[5]

Supreme Court in the case of Shakti Vahini gave some guidelines in order to prevent Honour killing.

· Immediate FIR

· against Khap panchayat if any couples complain about it

· Safe place to be

· provided to the couple whose relationship is being opposed by khap whether

· they are married or young bachelor.

· If any harm is

· caused to the couple or the family then khap will be criminally liable for

· this

· Khap meetings in

· the panchayat is illegal

· If needed, Police

· can also arrest the members of the khap assembly under section 151 CRPC

Therefore, from these landmark judgements we can see that the judiciary has always been determined to curb these social evil practices.


There is no doubt that the present laws in the country provides for the punishment for this heinous and odious crime but we all know about the humongous gap between enactment and execution of laws in India that's the reason why people still hold that guts to commit these crimes. So we need some stringent law and policies purely dedicated for these crimes so as to provide more clear and effective measures and penalties to the offenders. Remember one thing " Honour killings are not honourable by God. They are driven by ignorance and ego and nothing more." Suzy Kassem

[1] See, Lohumi, Bhanu P. (25 March 2010). "6 of girl's kin held guilty". Tribune Company. Karnal: The Tribune. At <https://www.tribuneindia.com/2010/20100326/haryana.htm#1> as accessed on 21 Aug 2020

[2] T.K. Rajalakshmi, "Checks on Khaps", Frontline 98 (May 7, 2010).

[3] AIR 1999 Raj 254.

[4] Shakti Vahini v. Union of India and others (2018) 3 SCC (Cri) : (2018) 7 SCC 192.

[5] Id., at para 1.

23 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

©2020 by JURIS COGNITIONIS. Proudly created with Wix.com