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"Hathras Case A Shameful Testimony To The Systemic Caste-Based Discrimination":Activists From Dalit-Bahujan-Adivasi-Vimukta Communities Seek Intervention In The Case Before SC

Radhika Roy
13 Oct 2020 5:03 PM GMT
Hathras Case A Shameful Testimony To The Systemic Caste-Based Discrimination:Activists From Dalit-Bahujan-Adivasi-Vimukta Communities Seek Intervention In The Case Before SC
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An Impleadment Application has been filed in the matter pertaining to the rape and murder of the 19-year-old Dalit woman in Hathras by 11 women and queer persons who are activists, academics and journalists belonging to Dalit-Bahujan-Adivasi-Vimukta communities. 

The IA, filed on behalf of Radhika Vemula, Cynthia Stephen, Grace Banu, Manjula Pradeep, Pradnya Daya Pawar, Prof. Sujatha Surepally, Disha Pinky Sheikh, Chhaya Khobragade, Neetisha Khalkho, Swati Kamble and Riya Singh, submits that it has been moved "in a larger bona fide interest for upholding the rights of the Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribe (SC/ST) community and that of the society at large".

It has been filed in the PIL seeking for CBI/SIT probe after the Uttar Pradesh Police failed to conduct a fair and impartial investigation into the gangrape and murder of a Dalit woman by upper-caste men in Hathras and surreptitiously cremated her in the middle of the night without the consent of the victim's family.

The IA states that the Applicants "collectively possess field experience and analytical data which and above all personal struggles that provide insights into caste-based atrocities faced by Dalits, especially Dalit women and limitations to speedy and fair access to the criminal justice system to Dalit girls and women in India".

In light of the Hathras tragedy, the Application has been moved to underline the fact that the incident "is not an isolated incident but actually stems from the country's long oppressive history based on caste that continues even in 2020".

The IA submits that crimes against Dalits were on the rise between 2006-2016. It further submits that despite the fact that the Constitution of India guarantees no discrimination based on caste, in pursuit of Untouchability (Offences) Act, 1955 and Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, caste-based discrimination has not abated.

"The Hathras tragedy is a shameful testimony to the systemic caste-based discrimination existing in State machineries. The police personnel, politicians, and government officials, in the present tragedy have not only failed to implement the rule of law, protect the marginalized, but they have further inflicted more pain and violence on the Hathras gangrape and murder victim's family".

Non-Implementation of Prevention of Atrocities Act

Complacency of the State of Uttar Pradesh is evidence from the fact that the State has not even identified "atrocities prone areas" as per Rule 3 of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Rules ("PoA Rules"), 1995 despite being the state with highest cases of atrocities against SC/ST community.

The Petitioners also allege that Uttar Pradesh State-level committee meant to monitor the implementation of the PoA Act under Rule 16, PoA Rules has not met even once in three years — 2016, 2017 and 2018, according to information provided by the Union Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry 

Resolve of the Respondent State of Uttar Pradesh not to actively eliminate caste-based atrocities is clear from their long- standing slumber of not implementing PoA in the state thoroughly. The conduct of the State Authorities and government while dealing with investigation in the Hathras gang-rape tragedy conclusively points to their inability to understand prevalence of systemic caste-based discrimination in their State. 

Prayers

* For an order directing transfer of all connected cases in the Hathras gang-rape and death from Uttar Pradesh to Delhi Special Court to ensure fair trial and meet the ends of justice as done by this Hon'ble Court in Re: Alarming Rise In The Number Of Reported Child Rape Incidents Suo Motu Writ Petition (Criminal) No. 1/2019 (Unnao Rape Case) vide order dated 1.8.20, Nivedita Jha vs The State Of Bihar 2019 


An order directing the constitution of an independent Special Investigation Team ("SIT") by this Hon'ble Court for investigating the Hathras gang-rape & death tragedy to be monitored by this Hon'ble Court. Special intervention and vigilance of this court is a must owing to the fact that the ruling party is the same both at Centre and State where the crime was committed therefore, there persists a serious chance of political interference. That Justice Lodha of this Hon'ble Court in 2013 had remarked 
that the CBI is a "caged parrot with many masters" during the Coal Block Scam proceedings. It is therefore imperative to remove any possibility of foul play, an independent Special Investigation Team should be constituted by this Hon'ble Court to conduct investigation in the Hathras gang-rape & murder tragedy which must be monitored by this Hon'ble Court.

An order restraining Respondents from conducting Polygraph test, Naro Test and Brain Electrical Activation Profile on the victim's family as being violative of the 3-judge bench judgement in Selvi v. State of Karnataka, (2010) 7 SCC 263 where this Hon'ble Court unequivocally held Article 20(3) of the Indian Constitution and section 161(2) of CrPC protect accused, suspects and witnesses from making self-incriminating statements. Testimonial compulsions are prohibited by law and that Polygraph test, Naro Test and Brain Electrical Activation Profile is an unjustified intrusion into the mental privacy of an individual. It would also amount to "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" with regard to the language of evolving international human rights norms. Furthermore, placing reliance on the results gathered from these techniques comes into conflict with the "right to fair trial".

 For an order directing Respondent State and investigating agencies to secure rights of the victim's family and witness, provide protection, and be treated with fairness, respect and dignity and with due regard to any special need that arises because their age or gender or educational disadvantage or poverty as prescribed under section 15A, Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. 

For an order directing the Respondents to strictly implement Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, especially the State of Uttar Pradesh. 

Accordingly, the IA has been filed seeking for impleadment of the aforementioned Applicants.

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