INDIA: HIGH COURT COMMUTES DEATH SENTENCE OF FIVE CONVICTED OF 'HONOUR KILLING'
March 9, 2014: The Delhi high court has commuted the death sentence given to five people involved in the murder of a man, after the trial court wrongly termed it as an act of "honour killing."
Since the man was attacked by the brother of his relative's wife one and a half years after the couple eloped, a division bench comprising Justice S Muralidhar and Justice Mukta Gupta said the case cannot possibly be termed an 'honour killing'.
HC further pointed out that in honour killings, the couple is normally the one to be attacked. "There is no evidence that they were threatened by the accused at any point of time," the court observed even though the woman said they had married without her family's consent.
Treating the offence as an honour killing, since the victim had been attacked by his sister-in-law's brother and four others, a sessions court had awarded death sentence to the men. It had relied upon SC's instructions to treat honour killing as a heinous offence warranting deterrent punishment.
However, while hearing the case, HC took into account that the families lived in the same area in Ballimaran and there was no evidence of any feud prior to the murder in 2008. "In the absence of any concrete evidence, it was not possible to conclude that the animosity between the families developed to such an extent that members of one family wanted to eliminate the members of the other or even the husband," HC argued while reducing the sentence though maintaining the conviction.
According to the prosecution, enmity developed between the families after the couple married against the wishes of the woman's family. It said the couple had been living separately to avoid the wrath of their family. It also said though they married in 2007, the couple had returned to Ballimaran to live with the man's family 10 days before the murder.
However, HC was not convinced on the basis of the evidence to conclude it was a case of honour killing which merited capital punishment. (Sources: timesofindia.indiatimes.com, 09/03/2014)