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Stop Using The Term ‘Ghairat’ In ‘Honour’ Killing Cases, Says SC In Landmark Judgement

In a landmark judgement concerning ‘honour killing’ cases, the Supreme Court has said that the word ‘ghairat’ must not be used to describe killings in the name of ‘honour’ as murder is ‘never honourbale and it should not be described as such’.

In a verdict authored by SC Justice Qazi Faez Isa, the top court said: “It will help deter such killings if the term ghairat is not used to describe them.”

In a report published by Express Tribune, the court said that by using the term ghairat, the murdered hopes to provide legitimacy to his actions, but there is no ‘honour’ in such killings.

“It may also elevate the murderer’s social status with those not familiar with what Almighty Allah Commands in the Holy Qur’an. This is unfortunate, more so because there is no honour in such killings,” said the SC judge.

The judgement also questioned the translation of the word ghairat as ‘honour’. According to the judge, the word ghairat does not have an English equivalent, saying a more appropriate translation of ghairat would be ‘arrogance’ and the one with such trait is an ‘arrogant’ person.

“For Muslims, the Holy Qur’an is the word of God. Killing a person is abhorrent and a grave sin. The Holy Qur’an also does not mandate the punishment of death for the offence of adultery. If the petitioner suspected his wife of infidelity he should have followed the path prescribed by the Holy Qur’an and the law of Pakistan to resolve the matter.”

“Making a false allegation of adultery is an offence under section 496C PPC and also constitutes an offence of qazf under the Offence of Qazf (Enforcement of Hadd) Ordinance, 1979.”

‘Honour killings should not be tried under Section 302(c)’:

The top court gave this ruling on a plea filed by a convict, Muhammad Abbas, who was sentenced to death over the murder of his wife by a Nankana court. However, the Lahore High Court commuted his death sentence to life imprisonment. In the plea, the convict sought a reduction in his life sentence under Section 302(c).

The court refused to provide any relief to the convict under Section 302(c) of the PPC wherein the punishment is less than the death sentence and life imprisonment. It said parliament had specified that the crimes relating to honour killing would be tried under Section (a) and (b), which entail death sentence or life imprisonment in case of conviction.

Justice Isa said: “Parliament was rightly concerned with the prevalence of such killings and enacted legislation to dissuade, if not stop such crimes. It did so by ensuring that offenders do not avail of the benefit of section 302(c) of the PPC, for which the maximum punishment is 25 years imprisonment but which does not prescribe a minimum punishment.”

“Pakistan has one of the highest, if not the highest per capita honour killings in the world and predominantly the victims are women,” the verdict read.

“The Holy Qur’an also does not permit killing on the ground of adultery, let alone on the ground of ghairat (ghairatun in Arabic), nor prescribes a lesser punishment for such killings. The law of Pakistan also does not permit this. It is inappropriate to interpret Chapter XVI of the PPC, which includes section 302 PPC, by disregarding the requirements of Section 338-F PPC, which necessitates seeking guidance from the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah,” the judgement read.

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