New bill to treat khap members as accomplices

Last Updated: Sun, Jun 27, 2010 17:44 hrs

Kolkata: Alarmed by the steep rise in suspected honour killings, the Central Government has decided to bring a new bill providing for the prosecution of the entire khap panchayat for ordering violent punishment for young couples marrying against their diktats, a senior minister said on Sunday.

The Central Government will soon come out with a law against honour killings and a draft has already been prepared, Law and Justice Minister M Veerappa Moily said on Sunday. The minister also said that the Special Marriage Act would be amended to curb the menace, which seems to be getting out of hand. "We propose an amendment to the Special Marriage Act to reduce the period of notice (required for court marriages) from 30 days to zero. No notice period is provided for that," he said.

"Several incidents of honour killings have been reported recently, which stunned the people. And I am also concerned and worried about the rise of such incidents," said Moily, after attending the regional meeting with chief justices of the Calcutta, Patna, Orissa and Jharkhand high courts and the law ministers of the four States.

Honour killings: Conflict between tradition and modernity

According to Moily, under the new law, members of khap panchayat, who order the killing of the couples who dare to go against the dictates of these panchayats will be treated as accomplices in the crime.

Such cases would be tried by fast track courts to provide speedy justice to the victims.

Even the Supreme Court has taken serious note of the so-called honour killings and has sought the response of the Central Government and eight States including Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand. It has directed the authorities to explain the measures being taken to prevent such heinous crime.

Moily said the Central Government would act in a flexible manner for implementation of the 13th Finance Commission recommendations for upgrading judicial infrastructure. The 13th Finance Commission has earmarked Rs 5,000 crore for the upgradation.

Teen cousins killed for honour in Haryana

"The Centre will act on it in a flexible manner after getting the demands from the state governments and initiatives have been already taken for upgradation of district court infrastructure, training of judicial officers and proposed setting up of Judicial Academies in different states," he said.

Referring to the setting up of e-Courts, the minister said more such courts would be established for busy disposal of cases and henceforth the Central Government's share would be 90 per cent and the State government's 10 per cent only in setting up such courts.

"The implementation of Gram Nayalaya programme launched on October 2, 2009 was progressing well and the law ministry has taken special effort to popularise it in West Bengal, Orrisa and Bihar," he said.

"Beside popularising Gram Nayalaya programme, the ministry will also set up 570 fast track courts across the country for speedy disposal of cases," said Moily.

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"The law ministry had launched the programme for release of undertrials January 26, 2010 to provide relief to those who are unable to secure bail due to poverty and so far 150,000 prioners undergoing trial have been released across the country," he added.

Regarding filling up of vacant posts of judges in high courts, Moily said that 275 more judges were required throughout the country and the law ministry would respond adequately after it gets recommendations from the courts.

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