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Hathras Case: SC Asks UP Govt. To File Witness Protection Plan; Seeks Suggestions From Parties For Enlarging Scope Of Allahabad HC Proceedings

Sanya Talwar
6 Oct 2020 8:07 AM GMT
Hathras Case: SC Asks UP Govt. To File Witness Protection Plan; Seeks Suggestions From Parties For Enlarging Scope Of Allahabad HC Proceedings
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The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the State of Uttar Pradesh to file an affidavit stipulating Witness Protection Plan for the family and witnesses of the 19-year old woman who was allegedly gang-raped by four upper-caste men in Hathras District, Uttar Pradesh.A bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde, AS Bopanna & V. Ramasubramaniun also asked the Solicitor General, appearing for the State of...

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the State of Uttar Pradesh to file an affidavit stipulating Witness Protection Plan for the family and witnesses of the 19-year old woman who was allegedly gang-raped by four upper-caste men in Hathras District, Uttar Pradesh.

A bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde, AS Bopanna & V. Ramasubramaniun also asked the Solicitor General, appearing for the State of UP to find out whether the victims family had chosen a lawyer for representation.

The bench further asked all parties appearing before the Court to put forth suggestions as to the scope of the Allahabad HC proceedings and how the top court can make them more relevant.

Before the case was taken up by the top court, the UP Government had filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court asking it to order a CBI inquiry into the Hathras Gang Rape case so as to ensure that a fair and impartial investigation takes place by a Central Agency "which is not within the administrative control of the State administration".

In this context, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta informed the Court that the UP Government was not taking an adversarial stand in the present plea but urged the court to take note of the "narratives" that were being spread in relation to the unfortunate case by various stakeholders.

SG: I appear for the State of UP. I am not opposing the petition. There are narratives and narratives in public domain. Let us not sensationalise the death of a young girl. Investigation just be fair and impartial. All kinds of people, political parties giving one narrative or another. Your lordships must supervise the investigation and the purpose of it must not be lost.

Senior Advocate Indira Jaising appearing for one of the intervenors urged the Court to provide witness protection to the family of the girl in terms of the stipulated provisions of the SC-ST Act.

Further, Jaising request for an SIT appointed by the Court. "Family has expressed that they are not satisfied with the CBI to take up the case," she added.

At this juncture, CJI SA Bobde asked Jaising what her locus was in the present case which was a criminal case.

"We are hearing your because this a shocking incident, but we are still pondering over your locus in this case," said the CJI.

While SG informed the Court that the Family of the victim had already been provided adequate police protection, the CJI insisted that the same be brought on record before the Top Court.

Advocate Kirti Singh appearing for 100 woman lawyers and submitted, 

"We would like the supervision of the Court in this case. While there may not be legitimacy as being the petitioners family but we are pained," she said.

Advocate Pradeep Kumar Yadav added that he was appearing for the women of the society at large.

To this, the CJI replied,

"Please understand that we are in no way condoning the incident, it is horrible incident but the question is how many similar arguments should we hear? Please understand that there is no need to duplicate concerns in the court of law. Court of law need not hear the same argument by every party. This is not a comment on the incident but please understand our point of view."

Solicitor General then informed the Court that the case was being sensationalised and that there was a recording by a reporter instigating the family of the victim to give a particular account in a particular manner for the news purposes.

Advocate Shobha Gupta submitted that Court must stipulate guidelines and protocols for disposal of dead bodies."This incident has shocked the very conscience of civilisation," she added.

CJI SA Bobde said that as the SG was not taking an adversarial stand in the said plea, all intervenors and petitioners may put forth their suggestions to him

In this context, the matter was listed for 1 week thereafter.

The plea had further sought a transfer of the matter from Uttar Pradesh to Delhi alleging failure of the State Government to take action against the accused persons.

As per news reports, on September 14, a 19-year-old Dalit woman was abducted and then gang raped by four upper-caste men who then subjected her to brutal torture by breaking her bones and cutting off her tongue. She passed away on Tuesday, the 29th of September, and was cremated by police officials in the middle of the night without the consent of her family.

It was submitted in the petition, filed by Advocate Sanjeev Malhotra on behalf of social activist Satyama Dubey, that the statement of the police that the cremation was carried out as per the wishes of the family is false as "the police personnel himself buried the dead body of the deceased even media personnel has also been banned as per the information received (sic)".

The plea underlines the issue that the police authorities have not performed their duties and are shielding the accused. Additionally, the family of the victim is being victimized by upper-caste persons.

The plea contends that the "Petitioner herein is demanding justice for the victim for the brutal attack, rape and murder of the victim".

In view of the same, it seeks for directions to the Union of India and other concerned authorities for a fair investigation and to transfer the same to CBI or to form an SIT under a sitting or retired Judge of the Supreme Court/High Court.

Lastly, it prays for the transfer of the trial from Hathras, Uttar Pradesh to Delhi and for an order for speedy trial.

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