The Supreme Court on Friday came down heavily on the Uttar Pradesh government over its inability to arrest all the accused in the cases of rape during the Muzaffarnagar riots. It also asked the state government to be ready to face contempt proceedings if it fails to do so by January 20.
“What have you been doing for the last seven months? Have you been sitting quiet? Why have our orders not been complied with? We had said all the accused must be brought to book but you have not complied,” said a bench led by Justice Ranjan Gogoi.
The bench was hearing a contempt petition, alleging that the police were lax in prosecuting rape accused and were, in fact, trying to shield some of them. It also contended that the rape victims were exposed to dangers without adequate security and that the state administration was lackadaisical in ensuring their rehabilitation in terms of the Supreme Court judgment.
The judgment, while indicting the Akhilesh Yadav government, held it prima facie guilty of negligence in preventing communal riots in Muzaffarnagar in 2013 and ordered it to immediately arrest all accused irrespective of their political affiliation. It had also issued several directions pertaining to compensation to victims and their rehabilitation as well as free and fair investigation.
Responding to the contempt petition, the state government’s advocate submitted that 22 out of 25 accused had been arrested but he failed to inform the court as to whether the absconding accused had been declared proclaimed offenders or not. The counsel sought to convince the bench that no case for contempt was made out since the state administration had also disbursed compensation to all the victims and it was further providing security to rape victims.
The bench was dissatisfied with the response and found discrepancies in the statements made by the state counsel and the compliance report adduced in the court.
“We make it clear that you have to comply with out orders. There are no two ways about it. If you don’t comply fully with our orders by the next date, be prepared to have your officers present in the court. Ask them to be here on the next date and face contempt if they don’t comply,” said the bench.
The state government’s top police officers are arraigned as party to the contempt petition.