South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

New Delhi: Amid growing instances of honour killings and demands by khap panchayats to amend the Hindu Marriage Act for banning same sub-caste marriage, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) chief KG Balakrishnan today said none should be allowed to enforce “self-created” laws.

“Contrary to the general moral view of the society, nobody shall be allowed to enforce their own self-created law to achieve their narrow-minded societal values,” he said.

Justice Balakrishnan was addressing a training programme on the ‘Rule of Law’ organised by Vishwa Yuvak Kendra here.

The former chief justice of India, however, did not mention the khap or caste panchayats or the controversy surrounding their demand.

He said whenever their is “threat” to ordinary law and ethical principles, it is for the state to intervene and maintain the law effectively.

Honour killings — where men and women are killed by their kin or members of their caste for defying traditions — are rampant in western parts of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana.

The violence is committed in the name of saving the honour
of the community, caste or family.

Moving to deal with the problem of honour killings, the government has mooted proposals to amend the law to classify such incidents separately under Indian Penal Code which will also arraign a caste panchayat which orders such acts.

As per the proposed amendment, bodies like caste panchayats can be brought under the ambit of the crime as they are accused in many instances of ordering killings in the name of protecting honour of a community.

The law ministry has given a go-ahead to a proposal of the
home ministry to insert a separate section in the IPC to
define the crime.

The khap panchayats are demanding amendment in the Hindu
Marriage Act to ban same gotra (sub-caste) marriages.

Balakrishnan, who recently took over as chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission, said the rights body was
also playing a vital role in enforcing the rule of law.

“Wherever there is violation of human dignity or equality, the authorities can be reminded of their basic duties ever since the formation of the NHRC, it has been doing so and all depends 
upon the cooperation of the people,” he observed.

Referring to Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution which deal with equality and personal liberty of an individual, justice Balakrishnan said with the changed economic scenario, the constitutional provisions do not have to merely safeguard and advance civil and political rights of individuals.

These have to also establish social, economic, educational
and cultural conditions under which self-aspiration and human
dignity may be realised, he said.

He said while in the United Kingdom, compulsory education
was enforced as early as 1870, even after one century, India
could not enforce the same in primary schools.

“Now the changes are taking place and we know that the Right to Education has become a reality. We hope that the new education act will change the face of Indian society,” he said.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *