‘I believe the bill will be introduced in the monsoon session. With the GoM (group of ministers) approving it, there is no hitch now,’ Vyas told here.
The bill, titled ‘Prevention of crimes in the name of honour and tradition’, proposes severe punishment at par with murder, to members of ‘khap’ (caste) panchayats, which order or provoke honour killings – murder of men and women by their own kin for either marrying within a ‘gotra’ (social grouping) or outside a caste.
The bill also proposes changes in the Indian Penal Code, the Indian Evidence Act and Special Marriages Act to initiate penal action against ‘khap’ panchayat members.
The GoM, headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, included Home Minister P. Chidambaram, Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily, Women and Child Development Minister Krishna Tirath and Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal.
‘It will be a big deterrent to the heinous crimes committed by one’s own family and community members in the name of ‘izzat’ (pride) of the family and clan,’ Vyas said.
Asked about reservations expressed by some parliament members and Congress leaders about the action against ‘khaps’, Vyas said: ‘I believe the GoM deliberated on all sides of the issue. The main issue was the security and freedom of women and men to decide on their marriages.’
‘Violence and brutality are no way to safeguard the prestige and pride of any caste or clan,’ she added.
Nearly 1,000 cases of honour killings occur each year, according to NGOs and social activists. Though most incidents take place in Haryana, western Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, there have been incidents in other states as well, including Delhi.
In a landmark judgment, a district court in Karnal had sentenced five people to death in March 2010 for killing a couple – Babli and Manoj – in Karora village in Kaithal district in Haryana in 2007.
However, the Punjab and Haryana high court last month commuted the death sentence to 20 years of jail.
Vyas told that the NCW had been conducting social awareness programmes against honour killing along with pressing for a new bill.
‘It should be a two-step strategy. Through the new bill, we want to deter the ‘khaps’ and family members from killing couples. Through awareness programmes, we want to convince the community leaders that murder is no way to protect their pride and tradition,’ she said.
Vyas, who is also a Lok Sabha member, demits the post of NCW chairperson Friday after completing two terms in office – totalling a tenure of six years.