The Supreme Court of India has urged states to ruthlessly stamp out the practice of honor killings and also warned that government and police officials who failed to prosecute the perpetrators of such crimes would themselves be prosecuted.

More widely connected to Muslim states like Pakistan and Turkey, honor killings also occur in India, especially in the North, over a wide array of reasons, including sexual relations between people of different castes.

In some rural areas, honor crimes are actually condones, even encouraged, by local ruling councils, also known as “khap panchayats” in northern India.

The Supreme Court has condemned these village councils as kangaroo courts.

There is nothing honorable in honor killing or other atrocities and, in fact, it is nothing but barbaric and shameful murder, judges Markandeya Katju and Gyan Sudha Mishra said.

We have heard of khap panchayats which often decree or encourage honour killings or other atrocities in an institutionalized way on boys and girls of different castes and religion, who wish to get married or have been married, or interfere with the personal lives of people. We are of the opinion that this is wholly illegal and has to be ruthlessly stamped out.

In India, honor killings tend to occur most frequently in deeply traditional, patriarchal areas of Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh.

Just this past weekend, in a village in Haryana province, two women were murdered by 23-year-old a man whom accused them of having a lesbian relationship. The killer was the nephew of one of the women. As it turned out, he was on parole, after served a prison sentence for rape.

The murders occurred openly in front of other villagers.

[He] threatened other villagers not to help the widows or call for medical help, said a police official said.

Haryana has seen many similar murders in recent years, including public lynching. Unofficial figures suggest 900 killings were committed every year in the state.