It is a shame that in the twenty first century, in a state dominated by Dravidian politics, Tamil Nadu, that the Madras High Court has had to step in to eradicate the evils of Honour Killing. Obviously the state executive and its law and order arm, the police has been found reluctant and wanting.
A spate of honour killings in the state of Tamil Nadu has led to these developments. Recently the state has directed the state to create special cells in every district to receive petitions/complaints of harassment of and threat to couples of inter-caste marriages.
To eradicate the evil of Honour Killing, the Madras High Court, has directed the state to create special cells in every district to receive petitions/complaints of harassment of and threat to couples of inter-caste marriage. The directions were made in a petition which was filed by a person belonging to the Scheduled Caste, who married a girl belonging to the upper caste, on account of which both of them were hounded and the girl eventually killed.
Though the writ petition was disposed in November 2014, it had again come up for further consideration as the Inspector General of Police filed before the Court a report indicating the lapses on the part of the police officers and the officers who are responsible for such lapses in the matter. It will be a matter of interest and concern for human rights activists whether there will be any action(s) or prosecutions under the law directed against these public servants.
The court said that directions similar to those issued by the Punjab and Haryana High Court in Manmeet Singh vs. State of Haryana may be essential to eradicate the evil of honour killing and issued the following directions. One of the serious issues that is still a cause of for concern, however is who will man these cells. Police officers across the country, even from the IPS cadres are notorious for their caste affiliations with many actually being part of caste networks. Can such a reality sit easily with the Constitutional hallmark of equality before the law?
The directions similar to those issued by issued by the Punjab and Haryana High Court in Manmeet Singh vs. State of Haryana are:
- The State shall create special cells in every District, comprising of the Superintendent of Police, the District Social Welfare Officer and District Adi-Dravida Welfare Officer, to receive petitions/complaints of harassment of and threat to couples of inter-caste marriage.
- These Special Cells shall create a 24 hour helpline to receive and register such complaints and to provide necessary assistance/advice as well as protection to the couple.
- Since all the police stations in the State appear to have been connected electronically through CCTNS Portal (Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems) Network, the State of Tamil Nadu shall examine the possibility of generating First Information Reports automatically (Auto-generated), upon the receipt of complaints from the aggrieved couple, even through helpline
- The Special Cell formed in each District shall monitor on a regular basis, the receipt of complaints through helpline or otherwise, the registration of the same and the action taken by the concerned police.
- It shall be the duty of the Station House Officer of the police station within whose limits the couple move about, to provide protection to them. In order to ensure that such a protection is given, the Special Cell should ensure that the complaint received through helpline or otherwise is forwarded immediately to the police station within whose jurisdictional limits the couple apprehending danger are moving about. The forwarding of the complaint to the concerned police station will be facilitated easily if online registration through CCTNS Portal is possible. The moment the request of the couple is forwarded by the Special Cell to the concerned police station, it shall be the duty of the Station House Officer of that police station to provide protection to the couple.
- Without confining themselves merely to the grant of protection to the aggrieved couple and taking action against the members of the family and friends for chasing the couple, the Special Cell should take pro-active steps to provide counselling to the parents of the couple.
- The State should set apart necessary funds for the purpose of eradicating the evil of honour killing and make available sufficient funds at the disposal of the Special Cells in each District. This fund can be utilized by the Special Cells for providing temporary shelters to the couples and for rehabilitating them wherever necessary. The Special Cells shall have a free hand to engage the services of Counsellors.
- In the event of any untoward incident, the Special Cell should fix responsibility upon the officers who failed in their duty to protect the couple. The failure to provide protection should be viewed as a major misconduct. The State shall form the Special Cells and take the above measures within a period of three months.