Shakti Vahini v. Union of India

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 27/03/2018

COURT: Supreme Court of India

JUDGES: Justice D. Misra



Petitioner: Shakti Vahini

Respondent: Union of India

SUBJECT: The judgment revolves around “honour killing” and the need to issue guidelines governing it.

FACTS: The petitioner organisation was appointed by the National Commission for women to research on Honour killing in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. On concluding the research, the petitioner organisation filled a writ of mandamus before the SC to direct the Central and State governments to take appropriate measures to prevent “Honour killing”


The Indian Constitution

  • Article 32: Remedies for enforcement of rights conferred by Part III
  • The right to move the Supreme Court by appropriate proceedings for the enforcement of the rights conferred by this Part is guaranteed
  • The Supreme Court shall have power to issue directions or orders or writs, including writs in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto and certiorari, whichever may be appropriate, for the enforcement of any of the rights conferred by Part III
  • Article 21: No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law.
  1. Whether the State and the Central government effectively prevents the practice of Honour Killing in the society?

The petitioner organisation upon completion of its research in Honour Killing found that such practices were prevalent in many States in the Country and was considered as a proper punishment for those young couples who marry outside their caste. Their reports concluded that, honour killing happens for various reasons which may include having sex before marriage, getting pregnant before marriage, refusing arranged marriage, marrying a person who belongs to lower caste, getting raped etc.

Therefore, the petitioner organisation prayed before the SC to issue directions to the Center and the State to immediately take cognisance of the matter.

However, the respondents contended that, implementation of measures to prevent honour killing is undertaken efficiently in district levels and filed reports for the same.

Upon hearing the parties to the case the Court held that, the present stage of implementation is not sufficient to prevent such cruel practices and hence issued guidelines to prevent the same, which may include:

  • A list was asked to be prepared collecting the list of places where honour killing and assembly of Khap panchayats happened.
  • The Secretary of Home Department was asked to immediately activate police protection in places where such incidents are suspected.
  • Upon hearing that a gathering of Khap Panchayats is likely to happen by a police officers he should immediately inform his superior officer and also simultaneously intimate the jurisdictional Deputy Superintendent of Police and Superintendent of Police.
  • Despite of all measures being adopted if the Khap Panchayat still gathers orders under Section 144 CrPC can be made.
  • Immediate measures should be undertaken to protect the life of the couple
  • Details of the couple should be recorded
  • Additional Superintendent of Police must deal the case with utmost sensitivity and conduct a preliminary inquiry
  • Upon receipt of the enquiry the District Superintendent of Police may direct the Deputy Superintendent of Police in charge of the concerned sub-division to cause to register an F.I.R. against the persons threatening the couple and, if necessary, invoke Section 151 of Cr.P.C.
  • Any failure by either the police or district officials to comply with the aforesaid directions shall be considered as an act of deliberate negligence and/or misconduct for which departmental action must be taken under the service rules.

CONCLUSION: Honour killing is a social evil which undermines the development of a society. Judicial pronouncements as in the present case and penal laws acts as a tool to evict such evils from the society.