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India high court urges end to practice of honor killing

The Supreme Court of India [official website] on Tuesday urged an end [judgment, PDF] to the practice of "honor killing" [AI backgrounder], calling the customary ritual "wholly illegal." The court said that officials who are aware of the practice before or after it occurs and do not report it will face criminal charges. Officials who fail to report perpetrators of the practice will be held directly or indirectly responsible for the crime. Additionally, criminal proceedings will be initiated against individuals who participate in honor killing. The case involved an altercation between two individuals regarding the proper method of tying bullocks. After a verbal insult was directed towards him by the victim, the accused assaulted the victim with sticks causing a fracture on his head. The two parties belong to different castes in India. The court stated:

There is nothing honourable in honour killing or other atrocities and, in fact, it is nothing but barbaric and shameful murder. Other atrocities in respect of personal lives of people committed by brutal, feudal minded persons deserve harsh punishment. Only in this way can we stamp out such acts of barbarism and feudal mentality. Moreover, these acts take the law into their own hands, and amount to kangaroo courts, which are wholly illegal.
The practice of parents killing their children is most common [Reuters report] when the person enters into a relationship with a member of a different caste or religion.

Last June, the Supreme Court of India ordered the central government and seven state governments to explain the steps they have taken to reduce honor killings [JURIST report]. The order came in response to a petition filed by Shakti Vahini [advocacy website], a non-governmental human rights organization seeking the implementation of stricter laws against the perpetrators of honor killings.

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