M A I N   N E W S

GoM to take call on honour killings
Anita Katyal/Our Political Correspondent

New Delhi, July 8
Unable to arrive at a consensus on amendments to the Indian Penal Code (IPC) to deal with the increasing incidents of honour killings, the Union Cabinet today decided to refer the sensitive issue to a Group of Ministers (GoM).

The Cabinet meeting, which witnessed a legal wrangle between Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal and Home Minister P.Chidambaram, also decided that the yet-to-be constituted GoM get suggestions from state governments before drafting a fresh stand-alone Bill. It would bat for stringent punishment, as applicable in a murder charge, against persons accused of honour killings.

Briefing mediapersons after the Cabinet meeting, Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni said the GoM will be working expeditiously on the issue. “The Government wants the amendments to be brought to Parliament in the monsoon session,” she underlined. Chidmabaram also stressed that the Bill will be introduced in the monsoon session of Parliament which commences on July 26. “There is no delay in the Bill. A note has been sent to get the opinion of states,” he added.

The decision to refer the matter to a GoM followed a heated discussion in the Union Cabinet on amendments proposed by the Home Ministry in the IPC, the Evidence Act and the Special Marriage Act which brings honour killings under the definition of murder and makes it difficult for the accused to get away with it.

Sibal questioned the need for bringing in a special amendment to deal with cases of honour killings . “A murder is a murder irrespective of where and how it takes place...there is no need to spell it out,” he is learnt to have argued.

The present provisions of the IPC take care of murder charges and abetment to murder, he said, adding that it is more important to ensure the enforcement of these laws by the police.

Chidambaram, however, was quick to counter the argument. “Why should we not have such a law?. There are social evils which need to be highlighted and special provisions made in the law to deal with them adequately and effectively. Why did we have a special focus on sati in our laws?” Chidambaram asked.

Sports Minister MS Gill suggested that it might be better to have a special stand-alone law on honour killings as was done in the case of sati and dowry. At the same time, he said, care must be taken to see that these laws are enforceable. Pointing to the Home Ministry’s proposal that members of a clan, community or caste panchayat ordering honour killings are liable for punishment, Gill said this was not practical as it will be difficult to define and establish membership of a clan.

Given the divergent views on dealing with this issue, Chidambaram suggested that it be referred to a GoM, while Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee proposed that suggestions from state government be sought by the panel.





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