Honour killing guillotines liberty: SC


  • Coming down heavily on crimes committed in the name of honour, the Supreme Court upheld the choice of consenting adults to love and marry as a part of their fundamental rights.
  • The apex court said, “Honour killing guillotines individual liberty, freedom of choice and one’s own perception of choice.”

Issues guidelines

  • It issued a set of guidelines for authorities to safeguard young couples under threat for marrying outside their caste or religion. It ridiculed the “elevated sense of honour” of elders, the collective and khap panchayats who rain horror on couples for choosing to marry outside their caste, clan or religion.
  • It termed the elders, presiding over murder in broad daylight, as “patriarchal monarchs” who believe they are the descendants of Caesar or Louis XIV.
  • The court compared honour killing to some of the harsh punishments prescribed in the Code of Hammurabi dating back to 1750 BC.
  • “The human rights of a daughter, brother, sister or son are not mortgaged to the so-called or so-understood honour of the family or clan or the collective… The act of honour killing puts the rule of law in a catastrophic crisis.
  • The court held that the consent of the family, community or clan is not necessary.

SC on Khap panchayats:

  • In a strongly worded condemnation of khap panchayats, which gang up against young couples to force their presence and dictate punishments, Chief Justice Misra said khaps feel their duty is sanctified and their action of punishing the hapless victims is inviolable. Women are treated by the khaps as servile persons who have no desire for autonomy. Their families are either silent spectators or active participants in their torture. “Masculine dominance becomes the sole governing factor of perceptive honour.”
  • These “feudalistic” entities have no compunction in committing crimes. The police turn a blind eye and the administration hardly questions them.
  • To highlight the terror inflicted on women, the Supreme Court gave a list of actions which trigger honour-based crimes.
  • They include loss of virginity outside marriage; unapproved relationships; refusing an arranged marriage; asking for divorce; demanding custody of children after divorce; causing scandal or gossip in the community; and even “falling victim to rape.”


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