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The Madras High Court today registered a suo motu case to check on the measures taken by the government to curb honour killings in Tamil Nadu.
The Bench of Justices S Manikumar and Subramonium Prasad has also directed the government to furnish details regarding the steps taken in line with the Supreme Court’s 2018 directions against honour killings. In March 2018, the Supreme Court in Shakti Vahini v Union of India has issued a slew of preventive, remedial and punitive steps against to curb honour killings.
“Still we have honour killings reported twice in a month”, observed Justice Manikumar today.
He also highlighted a report which stated that Tamil Nadu had witnessed 81 honour killings in the last three years.
The Bench proceeded to remark that it was yet to see any tangible steps taken by the government against the practice of honour killings. While directing the Government Pleader present to get instructions regarding the countermeasures taken by the state, the Bench remarked,
“If steps are not taken, what should we do?
… We don’t find any kind of response to these incidents reported in newspapers.”
The Bench also observed that the government was doing little to publicize measures taken to curb honour killings, if any, through the media.
“…Nothing is there, not one poster… nothing“, remarked Justice Manikumar.
The Court further took judicial notice of the fact that it is yet to come across steps to sensitise law enforcement agencies on measures against honour killings.
Senior advocate R Vaigai also weighed, highlighting 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.
The Court further took note of the Draft Bill on the issue framed pursuant to the 242nd report of the Law Commission of India which had endorsed the enactment of a separate law to deal with honour killings. The Bench has directed the Central Government to respond as to what the status of the Bill is.
The Government Pleader present today sought eight weeks to submit the state’s response in the matter. However, the court was not inclined to allow the request, given the seriousness of the issue. Commenting on the apparent lethargic response of the state so far, the Court orally observed,
“You don’t understand the importance of this…”
During the course of proceedings, the Court also observed that the dominant factor driving the honour killings was caste.
The matter has now been posted to be taken up next on July 22, Monday.
This development comes days after a double murder resembling an honour killing took place in Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu, wherein a pregnant woman and her husband were hacked to death allegedly for entering into an inter-caste marriage. The two belonged to different subcastes within a scheduled caste community. The woman’s parents had reportedly objected to the marriage. The father of the woman has been arrested in the case.