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The Madras High Court, on Tuesday, directed the Tamil Nadu government to give an explanation within 10 days, regarding the steps taken to curb caste-based “honour” killing.  The court was acting on its own, based on various media reports of caste killings in Tamil Nadu.

A division bench, comprising Justices S. Manikumar and Subramonium Prasad referred to an apex court order of July 23, 2018, in which it had issued directions to states to take preventive steps, remedial measures and punitive action in respect of caste killings.

It noted that the Supreme Court had observed in that judgment that steps have to be taken within six weeks by the respondent states and reports of compliance filed within that period before the court registry.

The bench referred to recent reports published in English and Tamil dailies on caste killings in the state and also the Supreme Court order and noted that the judgement had been rendered as early as on July 23 last year.

“Though the apex court directed state governments to submit reports of compliance within six weeks and disposed of the writ petition, we are of the view that it is the duty of the high court to ensure enforcement of orders of the Supreme Court and in that context, we deem it fit to take up suo moto PIL.”

The bench was of the opinion that it was the duty of both the Union and state governments to ensure that suitable legislation is passed as expeditiously as possible.

The judges observed that the home ministry must take the initiative and work in coordination with states to sensitise law enforcement agencies and by involving all stakeholders to identify steps to prevent such violence and implement the constitutional goal of social justice and rule of law.

Though the government pleader sought eight weeks time, the bench declined to grant it, “considering the seriousness involved in the violation of fundamental rights of the persons”.

It directed the government to file its response within ten days and said no further time would be extended.

The bench then posted the matter for further hearing to July 22 and directed the home ministry to submit details of the progress of a Bill on caste-based killing, which is pending in parliament.

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