The supreme court quoted simone weil, while advocating the human rights of people. The court had this occasion, when an organisation ‘Shakti Vahini filed a writ petition under Article 32 of the Constitution, to curb the evil of honour killing.

The court said,

“Assertion of choice is an insegregable facet of liberty and dignity. That is why the French philosopher and thinker, Simone Weil, has said: –

Liberty, taking the word in its concrete sense consists in the ability to choose. When the ability to choose is crushed in the name of class honour and the persons physical frame is treated with absolute indignity, a chilling effect dominates over the brains and bones of the society at large. The question that poignantly emanates for consideration is whether the elders of the family or clan can ever be allowed to proclaim a verdict guided by some notion of passion and eliminate the life of the young who have exercised their choice to get married against the wishes of their elders or contrary to the customary practice of the clan. The answer has to be an emphatic No.

It is because the sea of liberty and the ingrained sense of dignity do not countenance such treatment inasmuch as the pattern of behaviour is based on some extra-constitutional perception. Class honour, howsoever perceived, cannot smother the choice of an individual which he or she is entitled to enjoy under our compassionate Constitution. And this right of enjoyment of liberty deserves to be continually and zealously guarded so that it can thrive with strength and flourish with resplendence. It is also necessary to state here that the old order has to give way to the new. Feudal perception has to melt into oblivion paving the smooth path for liberty.

That is how the statement of Joseph J. Ellis becomes relevant. He has propounded: –

We don’t live in a world in which there exists a single definition of honour anymore, and its a fool that hangs on to the traditional standards and hopes that the world will come around him.”


Shakti Vahini v. Union of India, (2018)