Expressing in strong words, it said, “In our opinion honour killings, for whatever reason, come within the category of rarest of rare cases deserving death punishment. It is time to stamp out these barbaric, feudal practices which are a slur on our nation. This is necessary as a deterrent for such outrageous, uncivilized behaviour. All persons who are planning to perpetrate 'honour' killings should know that the gallows await them."
The landmark judgment was made by the bench of Justices Markandeya Katju and Gyan Sudha Mishra who were hearing the appeal filed by Bhagawan Dass challenging the life imprisonment passed by the Delhi Sessions Court on him. He is charged with the murder of his married daughter Seema in what was considered honour killing for having an incestous relationship with her cousin. The SC dismissed the case.
The highest judicial body also said, “many people feel that they are dishonoured by the behaviour of the young man/woman, who is related to them or belonging to their caste because he/she is marrying against their wish or having an affair with someone, and hence they take the law into their own hands and kill or physically assault such person or commit some other atrocities on them."
The bench added further, "If someone is not happy with the behaviour of his daughter or other person, who is his relation or of his caste, the maximum he can do is to cut off social relations with her/him, but he cannot take the law into his own hands by committing violence or giving threats of violence."
The prosecution found that Dass was miffed with her daughter for having an affair with her cousin after leaving her husband. This lead to Dass strangulating and killing her on May 16, 2006 and later attempting to cremate her body. This was when the police caught him. The sessions court awarded him life imprisonment with the High Court upholding it. This was when Dass approached the SC appealing against the judgment.
The SC also commented that such honour killings have become commonplace in various parts of India especially Haryana, western UP, and Rajasthan. Justice Katju said when writing the judgement, “Often young couples who fall in love have to seek shelter in the police lines or protection homes, to avoid the wrath of kangaroo courts."