CHECK ON MEASURES TAKEN TO CURB HONOUR KILLINGS
A pregnant woman and her husband were slaughtered by a group of people in Tamil Nadu’s Thoothukudi district on Wednesday allegedly due to the fact that theirs was an inter-caste marriage. The father of the woman, 24-year-old A Jothi, was arrested on Thursday. Reportedly, he was strongly opposed to the marriage.
Solairaj, a salt pan worker from Thanthai Periyar Nagar who belonged to the Parayar community, was in love with his co-worker A Jothi, 24, who belonged to the Pallar community. Owing to the fact that they belong to different castes, Jothi’s family opposed their relationship. But the couple went ahead and got married.
The two were sleeping in the courtyard outdoor their house in the Thanthai Periyar Nagar area when the armed gang attacked them and hanged them to death, allegedly by Jothi’s father.
In the wake of a recent death of a couple in Thoothukudi district, The Madras High Court registered a suo moto case to Check on the Measures taken by the government to control Honour Killings in Tamil Nadu.
The Bench consisting of JusticesS Manikumar and Subramonium Prasad pointed out that caste based crimes (Honour Killings) continue to take place despite the court directing several Measures to Check and control them. The court then called for reports from the Chief Secretary, the Home Secretary and the Director-General of Police on steps taken by them to avert such crimes in submission with a series of instructions issued by the Supreme Court on March 27, 2018. In March 2018, the Supreme Court in Shakti Vahini Vs. Union of India has delivered a directions of preventive, remedial and punitive steps against to curb honour killings. The court then demanded that the state submit a list of districts with the number of ‘honour killings’ that have taken place in them and point out where the happening is most.
They directed Government Pleader Jayaprakash Narayan to take notices on behalf of the officials and make sure that their reports were filed on time. The judges remarked that the High Courts were bound to ensure compliance with the Supreme Court orders and therefore they had taken up the case suo moto in the wake of a recent death of a couple in Thoothukudi district.
When the GP said the Thoothukudi couple belonged to different categories of Scheduled Castes and it was challenging to say whether their murder would severely fall under the definition of ‘honour killing,’ the judges said any murder that took place due to a marriage without the consent of the parents should be interpreted as honour killing.
In April last year, concerned by the killing of young couples in the name of family honour, the Madras High Court had directed the Tamil Nadu government to implement measures to protect couples. The court had given nine directives that included establishing a special cell in each district to receive complaints of threat to inter-caste couples. The court had given districts three months to establish these cells. Justice V Ramasubramanian had additionally directed the government to line apart a fund to shield those escaping from the threat of murder.
The court further expressed discontentment that in the last three years, at least 81 similar caste killing have happened and that if the government had acted as required, this would not be the case.
The bench was further critical of political parties and the police. The judges stated that even in the State Assembly, parties that have been elected give significance to caste and promote communal politics. The Court further took note of the Draft Bill on the issue framed pursuant in the direction of the 242nd report of the Law Commission of India which had recommended the enactment of a separate law to deal with honour killings. The court questioned what the status of the bill against Honour killing and demanded answers from the Centre.
The Bench proceeded to remark that it was yet to see any tangible steps taken by the government against the exercise of honour killings. The Bench also observed that the government was doing little to broadcast measures taken to curb honour killings, if any, through the media. The Court further took judicialnotice of the fact that it is yet to come across steps to make aware law enforcement agencies on measures against honour killings.
Senior advocate R Vaigai further said, emphasising that it is unfortunate that the government has not been using the media to publicize steps taken. She also pointed out that the police department itself is not aware of such measures.
During the course of proceedings, the Court also observed that the foremost factor driving the honour killings was castism.
A Division Bench of Justices S. Manikumar and Subramonium Prasad took up the suo motopublic interest litigation petition and directed the officials to submit their reports by July 22. The judges wanted to know the preventive, remedial and punitive actions initiated by the State government to put an end to the menace of honour killings. The matter has now been forwarded to be taken up next on July 22, Monday.