The Prohibition of Unlawful Assembly (Interference with the Freedom of Matrimonial Alliances) Bill has been doing the rounds among States for the past seven years.
About the Bill:
- The proposed law, drafted by the Law Commission of India, is meant to penalise honour killings and uphold the right of adults to marry persons of their own choice without unlawful interference from caste panchayats or persons and relatives intent on harming the couple.
- So far, 23 States have responded to the Bill with suggestions; the other six have not responded yet.
- The Supreme Court has now stepped in to fill this legislative vacuum and is expected to frame guidelines in a judgment to protect adult couples from the fury of the mob.
- In the proposed law, the Law Commission has concluded that honour killing does not require a separate provision.
- The definition of murder in Section 300 of the Indian Penal Code would suffice “to take care of the situations leading to overt acts of killing or causing bodily harm to the targeted person who allegedly undermined the honour of the caste or community.”
- The 2011 Bill defines “unlawful assembly” as a group of persons who congregate with the “view or intention to deliberate on or condemn any marriage on the basis that such marriage has dishonoured the caste or community tradition or brought disrepute to all or any of the persons forming part of the assembly or the family or the people of the locality concerned.” “Marriage” under the draft legislation includes “proposed or intended marriage.”
- The punishments are meted out in a phased manner.
- Participating in any unlawful assembly is punishable with imprisonment for a term of not less than six months but which may extend to one year and is also liable to a fine of up to Rs. 10,000.
- Making exhortations that endanger the liberty of a couple is punishable with imprisonment for a term of not less than one year but which may extend to two years and is also liable to a fine of up to Rs. 20,000.
- Criminal intimidation of the couple or their relatives or supporters is punishable with imprisonment for a term of not less than one year but which may extend to three years and is also liable to a fine of up to Rs. 30,000.
- The maximum punishment in case of actual harm or injury caused shall extend to seven years of imprisonment.
- The provisions under the proposed law do not negate the offences under IPC but only adds to them.