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Honour killing is not fine
The general mood of despondency that extends across the country these days extends to the judiciary. One hears more and more about the huge pendency of cases in the various courts and how it will take a long time to deal with them, how we are woefully short of judges and that it will take forever and ever to appoint new ones, given the logjam between the government and the judiciary etc. etc. In the midst of all this, the good work that is still happening sometimes get lost.

Yesterday, however, one was cheered by the Supreme Court's verdict upholding the conviction of those who killed Nitish Katara in 2002. It has taken 14 years for Nitish's mother Neelam Katara to relentlessly pursue the matter through the labyrinths of our many courts and finally come to the end where she is reasonably satisfied with the verdict.

The courts too have done a yeoman service in not only identifying but also treating the whole murder case as a case of honour killing and keeping that in mind while sentencing. While honour killings are common place in North India, they are not officially tracked. However, the United Nations' statistics has observed that one in 5 cases of honour killing internationally every year comes from India.

Out of the 5000 cases reported globally, 1000 are from India. Rather, the national and international NGOs' claim the figures to be 4 times more, i.e. 20,000 globally every year. Of the total of 192 honour killings reported from the country in 2015, 60% of the reported cases came from the state. 

For India, which has still not drafted any legislation to declare the "honour killings" as a separate offence, it lacks statistical records at national and state levels. The NCRB doesn't regard "honour killings" as a separate category of offence.

Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh - all marked by a high incidence of gender inequality have been among the sites of gruesome instances of honour killings in the recent past. For them to sign up to the campaign against honour killings is significant because of the political class's diffidence thus far about taking on powerful khaps.

In 2014, these states joined 18 other states to empower the Centre to bring a legislation against honour killings, in what could be a turnaround moment for the effort to curb the powers of caste and community bodies which seek to be the final arbiter of social mores and arrogate unto themselves the power of judiciary.

All the three states opposed an earlier move for a central legislation against honour killings. Although under the watch of a government that is mostly seen to be regressive and conservative, it is unclear whether honour killings will continue to enjoy the kind of social legitimacy that has been thus far the case, the Nitish Katara judgement will at least for a time draw some attention to the subject.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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