Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh have joined 18 other states in empowering the Centre to bring a legislation against honour killings.
This could be a watershed moment for the effort to curb the powers of caste and community bodies
According to an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court by the Union law ministry:The other 18 who supported the `Prohibition of Interference with the Freedom of Matrilineal Alliances Bill', as it is called, are Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Kerala, Megha laya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Odisha, Rajasthan, West Bengal and UTs like Chandigarh, Dadra & Nager Haveli, Daman and Diu, Lakshwadeep and Puducherry ,
Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh -all marked by poor sex ratio and high gender inequality -have witnessed gruesome instances of honour killings in the recent past.
For Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh to sign up to the campaign is significant because of the political class's diffidence thus far about taking on powerful khaps.
These three states had opposed an earlier move for central legislation against honour killings.
The law ministry's affidavit came in response to a writ petition by Shakti Vahini.
The proposed bill, drafted by the Law Commission in 2012, is expected to check the high-handed and unwarranted interference by caste assemblies or panchayats in same gotra, inter-caste and inter-religion marriages.
In view of the rising number of incidents where young couples were excommunicated, tortured and even killed on orders from khap panchayats, the Law Commission recommended a bar on congregations to condemn a marriage on the basis that it has dishonoured caste, community or brought disrepute to the family community concerned.