The Supreme Court on Thursday said the Allahabad High Court would monitor the Hathras case in which a 19-year-old Dalit woman was allegedly gangrape and assaulted, leading to her death.
During the hearing before the Chief Justice S A Bobde-led bench, advocate Seema Kushwaha, appearing for the victim’s family, demanded that the proceedings of the case be shifted out of Uttar Pradesh to a court in the national capital.
Allaying the apprehension, CJI Bobde said, “Let the high court deal with it. We are here if there is any problem.”
The hearing began with Solicitor General Tushar Mehta referring to the affidavit filed by the Uttar Pradesh government, which said a three-fold mechanism — comprising five armed constabulary personnel, civil police including a guard and gunners, and CCTV cameras and lights — had been put in place at the victim’s house.
Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for DGP of Uttar Pradesh, requested the bench that CRPF should be deployed for security of witnesses. “Whoever your lordships feel, can give protection,” Salve said, adding that it should not be construed to be any reflection on the state police. Replying to Salve, Mehta said, “The state is completely non-partisan”.
Advocate Kushwaha, appearing for the victim’s family, said the trial be held in a court in Delhi after the investigation was over. She also sought that CBI be asked to submit the status report of investigation directly in the apex court.
Senior advocate Indira Jaising, representing one of the intervenor, also raised apprehensions of not having a fair trial in the state, claiming that the investigation had been botched up.
“We don’t expect fair trial in state of UP. The investigation has been botched up. We want intensive monitoring of the case by a Constitutional court,” Jaising said. She also said that a special public prosecutor should be appointed by the SC in the case.
“We are not satisfied with the protection given to the victim’s family and witnesses by Uttar Pradesh. Let protection be given by CRPF as was done in Unnao case. It is the very government against whom the victim’s family have grievances,” she said.
The woman, who was assaulted and allegedly gangraped by four upper caste men on September 14, died at Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital on September 29. Her body was taken to Hathras, and a hurried cremation was held at around 3 am on September 30 – none of her immediate family members were present at the last rites.
The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court had taken suo motu cognizance of the case, especially the hurried cremation, and delivered a stinging indictment of the Uttar Pradesh police and administration. The bench observed that her hurried cremation was “prima facie an infringement upon the human rights of the victim and her family”.