Pune: Honour killing cases in India have spiked over the years but still there is no law enacted to prevent it. A group of five law students from Pune have drafted a bill in order to protect and promote inter-caste and inter-religious marriages in the country.
The team called 'Vidhi' run by five young law students studying the bachelor's course in the city Bhushan Raut, Mayuresh Ingale, Kalyani Mangave, Kaamini JS and Chaitanya Shendage have submitted a bill on Inter-caste and Inter-religion Marriages Protection and Welfare Act, 2017 to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
Raut said the intention to draft such an act was to protect the couples from heinous crime done under the name of reputation and respect in the society. "After the famous Marathi movie 'Sairat' which had gained world acclamation was released, two incidents of honour killing were reported in Kolhapur. One of which was a couple (Brahmin girl and Maratha boy) who got killed after they married each other. The strange part, in this case, is that both the castes are 'higher' in their respective categories yet faced the consequences," said Raut, third year LLB student at ILS Law College.
"We have also observed cases wherein couples who got married in sub-sections of their caste were murdered. Sadly, our Constitution does not have a dedicated section or separate act for these cases. They are judged under the section of murder and women's protection," said Raut.
The government has released some schemes to promote inter-caste marriages. In Maharashtra, the couple is rewarded Rs 30,000 to 50,000 along with utensils as gifts whereas in Madhya Pradesh it is awarded around Rs 1 lakh. There are cases in which couples have received the cash, but in a few cases apparently, the government has said they don't have funds. We have also learned that these funds remain untouched due to no takers," said Raut.
"Although there are government schemes available, it defeats the purpose as many couples don't benefit from it due to societal pressure. We have demanded inclusion of two schemes; Hamid Dalwai interest-free loan scheme and Narendra Dabholkar inter-caste and inter-religious marriages promotion scheme to aid these couples," said Mangave, who is second year LLB student at Marathawada Mitramandal Shankarrao Chavan Law College.
The draft has a chapter on responsibilities of local body institutions wherein the head of the municipal body or sarpanch of a village must appoint a person, 'doot' who will reach the commoners and inform them about the schemes and rights to protect inter-caste and inter-religious marriages.
"We certainly do not expect that by bringing in a law for this cause will completely eradicate caste-discrimination or honour killing, but one needs a trigger point to have big changes that will come ahead. Also the more expeditiously these crimes come out, people will know that there is a robust system to combat it," said Kaamini JS, a fifth year LLB student at ILS Law College.
The students have penned down certain clauses under crime, punishment and protection related to inter-caste and inter-religion marriages which includes -
- Attempt made to pressurise, directly or indirectly any couple who aspire to do inter-caste or inter-religious marriage or keeps them away from marriage or create such adverse conditions purposefully with an intention of not letting them marry.
- Attempt made to separate the couple who performed inter-caste or inter-religious marriage, Outcast/ expel / exclude couple and also giving insulting treatment to the couple.
- Imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than four years, but which may extend to five years, and shall also be liable to fine not less than Rs 50,000 but which may extend maximum up to Rs 75,000 and do two years of social service as directed by the court.
- The students have mentioned in their draft that there is no establishment of a State-sponsored/ authorised institute or social mechanism to provide help to these married couples and promote inter-caste or inter-religion marriages. It is imperative to build an independent mechanism to fulfil these aims.
Include same-sex marriages
The students in the bill have insisted on extending facilities to marriages in any caste including transgenders and same-sex marriages.