As long as caste in India does exist, Hindus will hardly intermarry or have any social intercourse with outsiders and if Hindus migrate to other regions on earth, Indian caste would become a world problem.

  • Dr B.R. Ambedkar

Honour killing in simple terms refers to killing of a person in the name of honour or reputation of the family. The article is an attempt to explain as to what is meant by the term ‘honour killing’ in actual sense, impact of traditions on it, violation of constitutional provisions, human rights, analysing the current scenario and the need to criminalise the act.


India is a country where the caste system and traditions are deep rooted, even Indians are globally famous about the traditions, practices, customs or culture we follow, like ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ and ‘eating with hands’. This is the reason why many foreigners visit India to experience many of our traditional values or practices. Contrary to this, there are some practices that have had been followed from past many years which are against humanity and violates basic rights of human such as sati, child marriage etc; which though had been abolished but they still exist in few areas of our country. However, honour killing being the best example of such practices as it hasn’t yet declared as an offence even, so the cases of such are on peak.

The time when people became educated and understood the value of human life, some of the cultures with no logic in them were abolished such as:

Sati: it was a custom whereby a widow herself by sitting atop her deceased husband’s funeral pyre.

 It was abolished because every human has the right to lead their own life, where sati stood in violation of that, consequently, infringing Article 21 of the constitution of India.

Child Marriage: marriage of a girl or a boy before 18 years old.

 It was abolished because it violates many of the human rights.

Honour kill is a practice which violates both constitutional as well as human rights but is still practiced in India.

In retrospect, there was a term called ‘untouchability’ where the high caste people couldn’t work or be with lower caste people and which was then abolished due to the reason it discriminated people on grounds of their castes. And there comes the honour killing where the similar is happening, as daughter or son of a family is killed for the reason being, they are getting married to someone belonging to some other caste or religion.

If such tradition or culture is said to protect family’s pride or so-called honour, then that pride means nothing but merely a murder.

On one side Indians are famous for their ancient cultures or practices which is inspiring the rest of the world, on the other hand practices like honour killing in particular are setting bad examples throughout the world.

India is a democratic, secular, socialist country where we respect every religion and have a pledge which says “All Indians are my brothers and sisters “ but people modified the interpretation of the line as: ‘All Indians are my brothers and sisters but only of our caste’.

The time when we were ruled by Britishers, we used to fight for our freedom, as Indians are never distinguished by their religion, caste or colour. If our freedom fighters used to believe in differentiation of us on the basis of these, we still would be under British control. This is our culture, this is our real tradition: treating every human alike, with due respect. When we’ll start following it, then only we have the right to call ourselves true Indians; whereas killing someone for honour will make us only a criminal.

Violation of Constitutional Provisions:

As discussed above, honour killing not only violates human rights but also violates constitutional provisions such as:

  • Article 14[1]

Honour killing violates Article 14 because in honour killing, one is killed due to difference in the caste system from someone whom one is willing to marry to, in order to protect reputation of a family in the eyes of society; whereas our constitution provides for treating everyone equal in the eyes of law.

  • Article 21 [2]

It violates Article 21 as herein, someone’s life on the basis of cultural or caste difference is taken, for what nobody is authorised to and which is directly in violation with our constitutional provision. Nobody has right to take anyone’s life and honour killing is no exception to it. in the case of Shakti vahini v union of India, the ability to choose is crushed in the name of honour. And the person’s physical frame is treated with absolute indignity.[3]

  • Article 15 (1) & (3)[4]

It violates Article 15 (1) & (3) as here killing is done to protect the dignity of one’s reputation, which many believe is affected if someone from another caste marries or engages with someone from another caste or religion. While discriminating any citizen on the basis of religion, caste, sex, place of birth and others as per the Article, is opposed to our constitutional provisions and so honour killing is in violation of such provisions too.

  • Article 17[5]

As honour killing is a form of untouchability in the name of honour; it violates article 17 that abolishes untouchability and all its forms.

  • Article 19 (1) (a)[6]

As honour killing is killing of a person who choose to live with a person of some other caste, it violates article 19 which provides us with freedom to choose, express and so on.


Honour killing is one of the customary practices which violates number of human rights of the persons. Humans are provided with number of rights to preserve and protect human life, liberty, equality and freedom without discrimination and honour killing is directly a violation to that.


In the case of Manoj and babli they performed marriage when they are matured but the mother babli opposed the marriage as she has only the right to choose partner for her daughter and finally Manoj went missing[7]. Where the Article 16[8] of universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees-

1. Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race,

nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family.

They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its


 2. Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full

consent of the intending spouses

 3. The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society

and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

Honour killing is in violation of UDHR and several other provisions of human rights where a person is deprived of his right to choose, freedom, express etc and if he exercise these rights, he is killed for the sake of honour.

Violation of international convention civil and political rights:

 Honour killing violates article 7[9]of international convention of civil and political rights as article 7 guarantees protection from the torture, cruel, inhuman treatment. In the case of honour killing, this convention is not taken into consideration while everything mentioned herein is violated.

Violation of declaration on the elimination of violence against women 1993

Honour killing clearly violates article 1[10] of the declaration on the elimination of violence against women 1993 because in honour killing, male family members restricts and violates the right to life, liberty and security of women under the heading of customary practices.[11]

Violation of convention on elimination of all forms of discrimination against women

Honour killing violates CEDAW as it provides legal relief against women violence that suffers due to social, religious, cultural tradition and customary practices.


 In 2016, India has registered an almost 800 percent rise in the number of killings in the name of honour. There are still many cases that go unreported, where Indian police registered just 251 cases of honour killings.

The highest number of honour killing was recorded in Uttar Pradesh in 2016.

The killings were reported under two sections i.e.  section 302 of Indian Penal Code which deals with murder and Section 304 of the code which deals with punishment for culpable homicide.


India is one of the countries where rights of the women are still deprived, on the other side, the system of our country believes that whatever the parents say is correct; else they are not considered a good child in the eyes of society. No doubt, our parents have full say in our decision making, but only up to the attainment of majority. Once a person attain majority, the decision-making power lies with him and therefore, no one has the right to take away the life of any person, no matter what and solely on the basis of caste and religion, taking the life of one’s own child can never be justified. Therefore, India is at the stage where criminalising such a heinous offence[12] is the only option left.

Honour killing is not just a murder rather it is of such a nature, for which there is no justification or reasonableness. If a person commits murder, it is considered an offence while a person committing honour killing doesn’t provide for any legal provision. As the name suggests, where is the honour in killing someone and that though only on the basis of so-called caste system? That’s why, the punishment for honour killing must be more than a murder.  


It is the high time where India needs to criminalise Honour killing by enacting a separate legal provision. The current scenario deals with number of cases of such heinous offence and most of which aren’t even registered. If it is made an offence, then only the situation can get any better. In spite of that, education and awareness can help in changing the mindset of people.


[1]Article 14 of the Constitution of India: “The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.”

[2] Article 21 of the Constitution of India No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law, nor shall any person be denied equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India

[3] Shakti Vahini vs Union Of India on 27 March, 2018

[4] Article 15 (1) of the Constitution of India: The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them , Article 15 (3) of the Constitution of India Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making any special provision for women and children.

[5] Article 17 of the Constitution of India Abolition of Untouchability Untouchability is abolished and its practice in any form is forbidden The enforcement of any disability arising out of Untouchability shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law

[6] All citizens shall have the right

(a) to freedom of speech and expression

[7] Smt. Chandrapati vs State Of Haryana And Others on 27 May, 2011

[8] Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution. Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses. The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.



[9]No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. In particular, no one shall be subjected without his free consent to medical or scientific experimentation

[10] Article 1 of declaration on the elimination of violence against women 1993 For the purposes of this Declaration, the term "violence against women" means any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.

Name : Hanoon Vahab
Course : BBA.LLB , 3rd year
Institute: Geeta Institute of Law, Panipat
Topic : Honour Killing