Punjab and Haryana High Court: Arun Kumar Tyagi, J., while addressing bail application of accused in a case pertaining to Honour Killing, stated it to be a,

“Glaring example how the directions given by Supreme Court are flouted, how the necessity of protection to the couple marrying against the wishes of their family members is ignored.”

The brief facts of the case were that the deceased-Dharambir married to one Sunita against her family’s wish. Pursuant to which the couple were abducted and subsequently, the dead body of Dharambir was recovered from Sidhmukh Canal after two days. Investigation revealed the same two be the outcome of honour killing by the family members of Sunita.

Noticing that the case involved allegations of honour killing of Dharambir by persons whose honour was allegedly subjected to disgrace by the deceased by performing marriage with their relative Sunita Rani, the Bench referred to the decision of Supreme Court in Lata Singh v. State of U.P., (2006) 5 SCC 475, wherein the Supreme Court had directed the administration/police authorities throughout the country to “see to it that if any boy or girl who is a major undergoes inter-caste or interreligious marriage with a woman or man who is a major, the couple are not harassed by anyone nor subjected to threats or acts of violence, and anyone who gives such threats or harasses or commits acts of violence either himself or at his instigation, is taken to task by instituting criminal proceedings by the police against such persons and further stern action is taken against such persons as provided by law.” Again in Bhagwan Dass v. State (NCT) of Delhi, (2011)6 SCC 396, the Supreme Court had held,

“In our opinion honour killings, for whatever reason, come within the category of rarest of rare cases deserving death punishment. It is time to stamp out these barbaric, feudal practices which are a slur on our nation. This is necessary as a deterrent for such outrageous, uncivilized behaviour. All persons who are planning to perpetrate ‘honour’ killings should know that the gallows await them.”

 Similar views were held by the Punjab and Haryana High Court itself in Civil Writ Petition No.6717 of 2009 titled as ‘Asha and another Vs. State of Haryana, 2012 SCC OnLine P&H 12746

Adverting to the disturbing features of the case and adumbrating upon the directions required to be issued for preventing abuse of process and securing ends of justice, the Bench held that since the police had knowledge regarding marriage of Sunita with Dharambir as they had filed a protection petition which was later withdrawn by them, the police was expected to take immediate steps for their rescue on receipt of information regarding their abduction. However, even though Sunita had named the persons with whom her husband Dharambir was last seen, yet no raid had been conducted to arrest the persons named or to join them in investigation for ascertaining the whereabouts of Dharambir. The Bench expressed,

“The present case is a glaring example how…the police tries to understate the offences, delay the investigation, shield the accused by its inaction and still claim that there was no laxity or delay in investigation of the case by it and how the higher police officers, who do not even know that the case falls in the category of honour killing and they are required to follow the directions given by the Supreme Court, look the other way round and ignore the deficiencies surfacing during investigation with almost culpable failure to appropriately supervise/monitor the investigation and take appropriate remedial action to discharge their statutory obligations.”  

Accordingly, the Court directed the Director-General of Police, Haryana to conduct an enquiry into the matter and take appropriate departmental action against the defaulting Police officers/officials.

In the backdrop of above, noticing flagrant violation of the directions issued by the Supreme Court and this Court, delay or laxity in proper investigation and collection of evidence available and delay in conclusion of trial and for preventing abuse of process and securing ends of justice and, the Bench issued directions as under:

Directions to State Governments

  1. State government (Punjab and Haryana) and U.T. Chandigarh Administration were directed to appoint Committees consisting of Home Secretary, Finance Secretary, Additional Director General of Police, Legal Remembrancer and Member Secretary of the State Legal Services Authorities, Punjab, Haryana and U.T. Chandigarh at the State level within one month to examine issues of compliance with the directions issued by the Supreme Court and this Court and submit their reports with their recommendations within three months.
  2. Governments were directed to consider recommendations so made and take policy based action for implementing them.
  3. The Committee was directed to periodically monitor the issue of compliance with such directions in the States.

Directions to the police

 The Director Generals of Police, Punjab, Haryana and U.T. Chandigarh were directed to

  • create a Special Cell in each Districts to collect and maintain information and prepare the database in respect of couples who approached the Courts for protection and call for reports regarding assessment of threat perception to them and take appropriate action/issue necessary instructions, and
  • set up 24 hour helpline or enable any of the helplines already set up to receive and register request for protection and to coordinate with the concerned police officers/officials for providing necessary assistance/advice/protection to such couples.

The Director Generals of Police were also directed to issue instructions to the Commissioners of Police/Senior Superintendents of Police/ Superintendents of Police for ensuring that,

  • in case of reporting of any violence against inter caste or inter religion marriage or honour killing, FIR is immediately registered and upon registration of FIR, intimation is simultaneously given to the concerned Deputy Superintendent of Police who shall ensure that effective investigation is done and taken to its logical end within 60/90 days.
  • Immediate steps are taken to provide security to the couple/family and, if necessary, to remove them to a safe house keeping in mind their safety and threat perception.
  • Any failure by any police officer/official to comply with the aforesaid directions be considered as an act of misconduct for which departmental action be taken under the service rules.

 Directions for expeditious trial

  • The subordinate Courts were directed to ensure that cases of Honour Killing are assigned to the designated Court/Fast Track Court/one jurisdictional courts to ensure expeditious disposal within the period of six months. The direction was said to apply on pending cases as well with modification of applicability from the date of receipt of a copy of this order.
  • In case of non-appearance of any of the witnesses, the concerned Court shall take appropriate action against the concerned witness absenting without any lawful excuse under Section 174 of Penal Code, 1860 or under Section 350 of the CrPC against him.
  • In cases where the trial is not concluded within the period of six months, the concerned Court shall submit the progress report to the High Court seeking extension of time specifically mentioning the period within which the trial is likely to be concluded.

 Directions to the State Legal Services Authorities:-

The State Legal Services Authorities, Punjab, Haryana and U.T. Chandigarh were directed:

  • to prepare a scheme for providing legal aid to couples seeking protection and also legal aid to the complainant for representing him in cases of violence against inter caste/inter religion marriage and honour killings and properly presenting the case before the trial Court for award of compensation to the victims of violence against inter caste/inter religion marriages and dependents of victims of honour killings against accused in the eventuality of their conviction;
  • to further strengthen through para legal volunteers, Anganwadi Workers, National Social Service Volunteers, Saksham Yuva, Students of Law Colleges and School/College Legal Literacy Clubs their public awareness programmes against the social evils of violence against inter caste/inter religion marriages and honour killing; and
  • to take appropriate steps for award of appropriate interim/final compensation to the victims of inter caste/inter religion marriage and dependants/legal heirs of victims of honour killing under the Victim Compensation Scheme including the steps of issuance of appropriate directions by this Court, if so required.

Hence, Haryana State Legal Services Authority was also directed to take appropriate steps for award of compensation to legal heirs of Dharambir within three months. The accused were granted regular bail on the ground of parity as the co-accused had been granted bail, and the trial was likely to take time due to number of prosecution witnesses to be examined and due to restrictions imposed to prevent spread of infection of Covid-19. [Ravi Kumar v. State of Haryana, CRM-M-23537-2020, decided on 31-09-2021]

Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Appearance by:

For the Petitioners: Advocate Aditya Sanghi, Advocate Vikas Bishnoi,

For State of Haryana: Deepak Sabharwal, Addl. A.G., Haryana

For State of Punjab: P.S. Walia, Asstt. A.G., Punjab

For U.T. of Chandigarh: Amit Kumar Goyal, Addl. Public Prosecutor

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