Concern expressed over callous attitude of Police in dealing with honour killing cases

Punjab and Haryana High Court: Expressing concern over the rising number of “honour killing” cases in the States of Punjab and Haryana and dealing with yet another case highlighting the gruesome offence, K. Kanan, J., issued directives to the State Police to ensure that complaints of honour killings are looked after with sincerity and are dealt expeditiously. The Court also directed the Director General of Police to constitute a Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by senior police personnel to address the grievance of the petitioner. The Court in its concluding note observed that public confidence in the police would return only if it is ensured that the investigation would be free from any local influence.

As per the facts, the present case came up before the Court as the aggrieved petitioner pleaded for a fair investigation by the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) into the honour killing of his wife. Tanu Bedi, appearing for the petitioner argued that honour killing is a crime of a different genre, therefore free and fair investigation by a high ranking officer is the most feasible option. Keshav Gupta, appearing for the respondent, however argued that the current course of investigation is satisfactory.  

The Court observed instances revealing the extreme laxity of the police while conducting the investigations. The Court relied on the 242 Report of the Law Commission and the Supreme Court decision in Bhagwan Dass v. State (NCT) of Delhi, (2011) 6 SCC 396, where it was held that honour killings belong to the category of “rarest of the rare” cases. It was observed that honour killing is one such crime where the parents become the perpetrators of crime against their progeny as they are pressurized by the social diktats issued by the Khaps. The Court further observed that promotion of inter-caste marriages is a healthy solution for social transformation. In the light of the gravity of the offence and lamenting upon the callous attitude of the administration and failure of judiciary to curb the menace, the Court thus issued directions namely- to establish separate cells in every police station to deal with honour killing complaints; police to keep an army of “friends of people” from amongst progressive minded people in every village or group of villages; police must not compel the adult couples to go back to their parents if any one of them apprehends physical threat; every case suspected to be of honour killing shall be considered for entrustment to a high power officer for investigation not below the rank of a Deputy Superintendent of Police and under the direct supervision of SSP. Manmeet Singh v. State of Haryana, 2015 SCC OnLine P&H 222, decided on 23.02.2015

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