[Hathras] Supreme Court Seeks Report on Witness Protection Plan

Today Latest Court News is from the Supreme Court, where a bench of Hon’ble The Chief Justice S.A. Bobde Hon’ble Mr. Justice A.S. Bopanna And Hon’ble Mr. Justice V. Ramasubramanian, heard a Petition with respect to Hathras Incident.

The Court has directed the State Government to Submit Witness Protection Plan of Hathras Victim’s family and also apprise the Court about the scope of Proceedings pending before Allahabad High Court.

When the matter was taken up, the Counsel for the State of U.P. out-rightly submitted that the Government is not acting as an adversarial litigant in the present matter and support the Petition for Court Monitored Investigation of Hathras Incident.

He added that the Government is not opposing the Petition, and infact the Supreme Court must supervise the investigation of Hathras Incident, so that the purpose of it must not be lost.

Senior Advocate Indira Jai Singh appearing for the Petitioner submitted that at the present moment, protection for the family of the Hathras victim is highly important. Therefore Fair investigation warrants protection for the family.

Uttar Pradesh government has defended their handling of the Hathras gang rape case and has filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court.

The State Government has alleged that they are being defamed in the media because of a political conspiracy against them. They have also stated that they conducted a ‘diligent investigation’ in the case, but they are being defamed because of ulterior motives.

They also apprised the apex court about the fact that they have requested the Central Bureau of Investigation to take over the Hathras case.

It was also mentioned in their Affidavit that the cremation of the Hathras victim was done at night as they received information that the incident might lead to riots or unrest.

They also informed the Supreme Court that they had the consent of the family of the Hathras victim to conduct the cremation at night.

Key points mentioned in the Affidavit are:-

  • The U.P. Government conducted a diligent investigation in Hathras Incident, but the media and their political rivals are falsifying the facts.
  • The government constituted a Special Investigation Team ( SIT ), so the probe may move forward impartially and neutrally. The SIT headed by a senior officer of Home Secretary Rank, a Deputy Inspector General of Police rank officer and a lady officer
  • It was also submitted that they had requested the CBI to conduct investigations in the Hathras case so that people who have vested interest cannot claim that the UP government was partial in any way.
  • The UP government claimed that political parties and sections of the media are trying to ‘incite caste or communal riots’ in the Hathras region.
  • They also claimed that certain political factions are indulging in rumour-mongering to discredit and defame the government of Uttar Pradesh.
  • Because some rival parties and some media outlets have alleged that the investigation conducted by the UP government is not satisfactory, they have requested the CBI to probe the Hathras incident.

U.P. government’s version of the Hathras incident:-

As per the Affidavit filed before the Supreme Court, the U.P government have highlighted how the incident progressed and the steps taken by them:-

  • As soon as the incident was reported to the police on 14th September, the police registered a case. The brother of the Hathras victim gave the police a handwritten note stating that some people had tried to strangulate his sister. 
  • The family of the Hathras victim informed the police that the incident took place due to enmity between the families. An FIR for the attempt to murder was registered by the Hathras police and additional charges as per SC/ST were added because the mother of the victim informed the police that the assailants belonged to Thakur community were while the victim belonged to the Dalit community.
  • A medical examination of the woman was conducted, and critical neck injuries were found. The victim was referred to Aligarh J.M. Medical College, where she remained in the ICU for 15 days. The doctors opined to shift her to a spinal injury specialist hospital, but the father of the victim did not provide his consent. It was also stated that no medico-legal case record was prepared in the incident.
  • The Hathras victim’s statement under Section 161, CrPc was recorded on 19th September. The victim informed the police that one Sandeep tried to molest and strangulate her on the day of the incident. Based on the statement of the victim, charges under section 354 were added.
  • On 20th September, the accused Sandeep was arrested.
  • A revised statement was given by the Hathras victim where she stated that apart from Sandeep, Luvkush, Ravi and Ramu had raped her. The other three accused were also arrested, and Section 376D was added to the FIR.
  • Based on the statement of the Hathras victim, a sexual assault forensic exam was done, but the findings stated that no laceration, contusion, abrasion or swellings were found on the body of the victim. It was also mentioned in the report that there were no indications of rape.
  • The Hathras victim was shifted to Safdarjung Hospital, New Delhi where she succumbed on 29th September. The medical examination conducted at the hospital stated that there were neck injuries, but no other active injury was present elsewhere.
  • A post-mortem was conducted on 29th September, which revealed that the victim died due to blunt trauma injuries to the cervical spine and ruled out strangulation as the cause of death. While the post mortem was being conducted, media and political leaders along with their supporters, started gathering at the hospital.
  • It was also alleged that people started surrounding the ambulance which was carrying the body of the victim, many of whom were supporters of Chandrashekar Azad of the Bhim army. The ambulance reached Hathras at around 12:45 Am where people were demanding that the body should not be cremated.
  • It was mentioned in the Affidavit that the government was receiving intelligence reports that political parties and other factions were trying to incite riots. The situation was also tense because the Babri Masjid verdict was also due. Due to the reasons mentioned earlier, the district administration requested the family of the victim to cremate the body at night instead of waiting till morning.
  • The Affidavit states that due to extraordinary events and to control the law and order situation in the area the body was cremated at night, and the family members of the victim were present and had consented to the cremation.

Following the cremation, a Special Investigation Team was constituted by the government to probe the matter.

As per the contents of the Affidavit, the U.P. Government has requested the Supreme Court to keep the PIL filed in the Hathras case pending till the probe by the CBI is over.

During the course of hearing the Court observed that there is no doubt that the incident is shocking. The Court also took note of the fact that the Allahabad High Court has already taken cognizance of the matter, therefore the parties can approach Allahabad High Court too.

To this, the Petitioner Counsel submitted that they are seeking transfer of matter from outside the seat of Uttar Pradesh.

After hearing the parties the court has issued following directions:

  1. State of U.P. shall file an affidavit about the Witness Protection Plan.
  2. State shall also inform the Court about the fact that whether the victims’ family has chosen any lawyer

That matter has been directed to be listed after a week.

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