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[Hathras Case] SC Reserves Orders In Plea Seeking Court Monitored SIT Investigation

Sanya Talwar
15 Oct 2020 9:06 AM GMT
[Hathras Case] SC Reserves Orders In Plea Seeking Court Monitored SIT Investigation
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The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved orders in the plea seeking Court Monitored CBI/SIT investigation into the Hathras case.Solicitor General Tushar Mehta informed a bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde, AS Bopanna & V. Ramasubramaniun that affidavits had been filed on behalf of the State stipulating the Witness protection plan as well as choice of legal representation by the Victims' family...

The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved orders in the plea seeking Court Monitored CBI/SIT investigation into the Hathras case.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta informed a bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde, AS Bopanna & V. Ramasubramaniun that affidavits had been filed on behalf of the State stipulating the Witness protection plan as well as choice of legal representation by the Victims' family in terms of an earlier order of Top Court.

"There are two affidavits filed by state one regarding the protection given to witnesses and family of the victim. The other one is regarding the choice of lawyer for the victim. There are CCTV cameras deployed outside the home of the Victim. The victims family had informed the Police that Adv Seema Kushwaha has been engaged by them and that they would also like a lawyer from the Government," said the SG.

Next, the SG informed the court that the publication of the name of victim is prohibited in the CRPC and the same has been revealed in the Allahabad HC orders.

To this, the CJI said that they can delete it suo motu.

Advocate Seema Kushwaha appeared today for the victims family and urged the court to transfer the trial of the proceedings after investigation to Delhi.

Senior Advocate Sidharth Luthra who intervened on behalf of one of the accused sought to make submissions.

Senior Advocate Indira Jaising, at this juncture, interjected and said that Luthra should not be allowed to be heard as he is for the accused.

"This is between us and the court, how can the accused be heard during pendency of investigation?"

Then, she submitted that a fair trial is not expected in the state of UP. "Investigation has been botched up completely and the FIR does not even have a number," she added.

"We want intensive monitoring of the case by a constitutional court. We want a special PP to be appointed. We are not satisfied by witness protection granted by the UP Govt but want it by the CRPF. The victims have grievance against the State. There the victim died, here the victim has already died. We don't know how many more people in the family are safe. It is critical for the trial to be transferred out of Uttar Pradesh"

- Jaising in SC

Senior Advocate Harish Salve appearing for the Director General of Police (UP) said that he had no problem with the witnesses being protected by the CRPF but said that if the court ultimately does so, it must clarify that the same does not reflect on the Uttar Pradesh Police.

Luthra went on to submit that investigation details should not be dispensed with by the victims' family as this would lead to interference in a fair trial for the accused. The CJI asked him to approach the Allahabad High Court with this grievance. "We are not entertaining this," he said.

Other intervenors including Senior Advocate Colin Gonsalves, Advocate Aparna Bhat, Kirti Singh & BR Talekdar also made submissions.

In this backdrop, the court concluded hearing in the case and reserved its verdict.

The bench had earlier 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.

The CJI led bench had 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.

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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