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Honour killing is a heinous crime which is done to save their so-called “honour” in society. It is a killing of a male or a female who chooses to have a marital life on their own. It mainly happens to not get down in the eyes of societal norms. Just to follow the so-called norms, people become murderers of their own loved ones. In many cases, it was seen that a brother killed her sister, a father killed her own daughter, etc. For example, if a girl chooses a person as her future partner ‘but he is of a lower caste or of a different religion, then a male member of the girl’s family can get induced to kill her or the boy. For them, their reputation in society matters the most than the happiness of their family member. They become cold-heart when it comes to their reputation in society. Even in many cases, they kill with all honour and you cannot even see any type of remorse in their eyes.

KEYWORDS: Honour, murder, marital life, love, family, patriarchy


In this patriarchal society, honour is cherished above all things. Just to protect their honour, they do not even hesitate to kill their loved ones. And to top that, the most shameful thing is that those who participate in honour killings, they try to justify their act. They think by killing, they are preventing disgrace to their family. The main reasons for the occurrence of the honour killing is disobeying the dress code by females which is set by society, refusal to marriage, marrying someone outside their caste or religion, engaging in lesbian or gay relationships, engaging in sexual activities whether consensual or non-consensual. It was even seen that girls got killed because they got raped or sexually harassed, family members got the guts to kill their girl but not stand for her justice.

Causes of honour killings

  • Inter-caste or inter-religion marriage

  • Allegation of pre-marital sexual activities

  • The fear of losing their caste status in society

  • Pregnancy not related to the legal husband

  • Homosexuality

  • Live-in relationship

  • Patriarchal society

  • Being a victim of sexual harassment

  • Seeking divorce from husband

This is really shameful when a girl is at her lowest point and that time when her family members should support her but instead they end her life brutally. This is such a heinous crime and some people do not find it wrong either.


Constitutional Provisions

Constitution has many provisions which can protect an individual from honour-related crimes.

  • Article 14: It guarantees every person the right to equality before the law or equal protection of law within the territory of India.

  • Article 15(1): It prohibits discrimination against any citizens on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them.

  • Article 15(3): Not to prevent the State from making any special provision for women and children.

  • Article 17: Abolished untouchability

  • Article 18: Abolition of titles

  • Article 19: Right to freedom

  • Article 21: Right to life and personal liberty.

Indian Penal Code, 1860

  • Sections 299-304: It penalizes any person guilty of murder and culpable homicide not amounting to murder. The punishment for murder is death or life imprisonment and shall also be liable to fine. The punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder is life imprisonment or imprisonment up to 10 years and fine.

  • Section 307: It penalizes attempt to murder with imprisonment up to 10 years and fine. If a person is hurt, the offender shall be liable to life imprisonment or to such punishment as is hereinbefore mentioned.

  • Section 308: It penalizes attempt to commit culpable homicide with imprisonment up to 3 years or with fine or with both. If it causes hurt is caused to any person by such act, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 7 years or with fine or with both.

  • Section 120 A and B: It penalizes any person who is a party to a criminal conspiracy.

  • Sections 107-116: It penalizes person for abetment of offences including murder and culpable homicide.

  • Sections 34 and 35: It penalizes criminal acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention.

Indian Evidence Act, 1872

The Act has provision to punish those who conceal facts, either before or at the time of, or after the alleged crime. Article 13 of the Act deals with the relevancy of facts when right or custom is in question. It states, “Where the question is as to the existence of any right or custom, the following facts are relevant-

a. Any transaction by which the right or custom in question was created, claimed, modified, recognized, asserted or denied, or which was inconsistent with its existence;

b. Particular instances, in which the right or custom was claimed, recognized or exercised, or in which its exercise was disputed, asserted, or departed from.”

This Act is relevant to bring justice to those who become victim because of the verdicts by the caste/ khap panchayats.

The Special Marriage Act, 1954

The main of this Act is to provide a special form of marriage for the people of India and all the Indian nationals in foreign countries, irrespective of the religion or faith followed by either party; to provide for the registration of certain marriages; and to provide for divorce.

The Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Act, 2006

This Act provides for the constitution of a National Human Rights Commission, State Human Rights Commission in States and Human Rights Court for better protection of the human rights of individuals.

The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2006

The reason behind the enactment of this Act is to provide for more effective protection of the rights of women guaranteed under the Constitution who are victims of violence of any kind occurring within the family and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

The Prohibition of Interference with the Freedom of Matrimonial Alliances in the Name of Honour and Tradition Bill, 2015

The Bill provides for protecting individual liberty and preventing victimisation, prohibition of unlawful assemblies and other conduct interfering with the freedom of matrimonial alliances in the name of honour and tradition.


Smt. Chandrapati vs state of Haryana and Ors. (2011)

This is the first landmark judgement on honour killings in India. In this case, there were the victims named Babli and Manoj. They both eloped and married to each other. As they both were from different castes, they were criticised and threatened by their family members. When this issue was raised in the panchayat, it was concluded that whoever would be in contact with the couple would have to pay 25000 Rs. Then the panchayat abducted both of them and killed them brutally just to save the honour of the village. The Court held the five perpetrators guilty and sentenced them to life imprisonment.

Shakti Vahini vs Union of India (2018)

In this case, certain guidelines were issued by the court to curb the practice of honor killing in India: “That two consenting adults do not require the consent of anyone to get married. Any action taken by the Khap panchayat or the family members to restrain the two consenting adults from getting married is illegal. ‘Class honor’, however, perceived, cannot smother an individual's choice, which he/she is entitled to enjoy under our compassionate Constitution. Any honor-based crime with an intention to suppress a person’s choice to love marriage is illegal. Doing so would be violative of his dignity, which is against the provisions of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. When two adults get married out of their own will, they choose their relationship; they have been given this right under the Constitution. So, any infringement of the said right is a violation of the Constitution.”


As we saw above, there are many provisions to protect individuals from honour-related crimes. The above-mentioned laws and order should be actively introduced in society by means of formal governance and active policing. No religion allows them to kill their own girl for honour. People should understand that girls have their own life and needs, they can also choose their life decisions on their own and no one has the right to harm them just for their so-called “honour.”

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