The Punjab & Haryana High Court has issued directions to the State government, police, subordinate courts and state legal services authorities to ensure proper investigation, collection of evidence and speedy trial in cases of honour killing in the States (Ravi Kumar v. the State of Haryana).
The directions were passed by Justice Arun Kumar Tyagi while hearing a bail application by two accused persons in an honour killing incident.
Though the Court granted bail to the accused, it was deemed fit to discuss judgments passed by the Supreme Court condemning the violence inflicted upon those who enter inter-caste or inter-religious marriages and refer to the directions already issued by the top court.
The judge first relied on the Supreme Court’s judgement in Lata Singh V. State of UP which was one of the initial cases raising the issue of a person’s right to marry someone of their own choice. The Court had observed in that case,
“There is nothing honourable in such killings, and in fact, they are nothing but barbaric and shameful acts of murder committed by brutal, feudal minded persons who deserve harsh punishment.”
Further, in the case of Vahini V.Union of India, the Supreme Court directed the taking of preventing, remedial and punitive measures to prevent honour killings and diktats of khap panchayats.
Finally, the Single Judge examined the judgment in Asha V. State of Haryana where the Supreme Court lay down a slew of directions to deal with cases of honour killing.
After going through these judgments, the Court noted that the directions of the apex court were and continue to be flouted.
“The present case is a glaring example of how the directions given by Hon'ble Supreme Court are flouted, how the necessity of protection to the couple marrying against the wishes of their family members is ignored, how the police fail to take prompt action to rescue the couple on information being given to it, how the police try to understate the offences, delay the investigation, shield the accused by its inaction and still claim that there was no laxity or delay in the investigation of the case by it and how the higher police officers, who do not even know that the case falls in the category of honour killing and they are required to follow the directions given by Hon'ble Supreme Court, look the other way round and ignore the deficiencies surfacing during the investigation with almost culpable failure to appropriately supervise/monitor the investigation and take appropriate remedial action to discharge their statutory obligations.”
The governments of Punjab and Haryana must within one month, form committees that shall examine all the relevant issues of compliance with the directions issued by the Supreme Court and this Court and submit their reports with their recommendations within three months. The governments shall consider recommendations made by these committees and take policy-based action for implementing the same.
Create a special cell in each District that shall collect and maintain information and prepare the database in respect of couples who approached courts for protection. Set up a 24-hour helpline. In case of reporting of any violence against inter-caste or inter-religion marriage or honour killing, FIR is immediately registered and ensure that effective investigation of the crime is done and taken to its logical end with promptitude within the period of 60/90 days. Immediate steps are taken to provide security to the couple/family and, if necessary, to remove them to a safe house.