Horrible, Shocking, Extraordinary: CJI Calls Hathras Incident, Seeks Details Of Witness Protection

She died on September 29 and was cremated at 3 a.m. on September 30. The family has alleged coercion regarding the time and manner in which the cremation took place.
Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde
Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday termed the Hathras incident horrible, shocking and extraordinary as it sought an affidavit from the Uttar Pradesh government on three aspects: how the family and witnesses are being protected; has the family chosen a lawyer to assist them in the matter and what is the scope of the Allahabad High Court proceedings and how could it widen its scope.

A bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde said the court will ensure the investigations into the matter is smooth.

“The incident is horrible, shocking… We are hearing you as the incident is extraordinary,” said Chief Justice to senior advocate Indira Jaising, representing an intervenor in the matter.

Jaising submitted before the bench that she does not want to interfere with the investigation and insisted on the transfer of the case from one state to another. She also cited that 27 FIRs have been lodged against several protesters in the matter and emphasised on providing witness protection.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Uttar Pradesh government, submitted that outside the courts, several narratives were being weaved, and this could come to an end by a monitoring and investigation by a central agency.

Mehta reiterated that the family has already been given police protection.

Jaising said justice can be done only by transferring the trial to Delhi and added that a judicial inquiry, under the supervision of a former judge is preferable.

“Things are being argued in the court without knowing the facts. Witnesses are being protected,” said Mehta.

After a detailed hearing in the matter, the top court issued notices and adjourned it to next week for the state to file another affidavit on the three aspects.

The remarks from the top court were made during the hearing of a PIL filed by a social activist seeking CBI or SIT probe in the Hathras incident in which a 19-year-old Dalit teenager was allegedly gang raped by upper caste men and then reportedly dragged by the neck with her dupatta on a field in Bulghari village. The victim was partially paralysed and died after battling for 14 days. She was shifted from Aligarh hospital to Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital on September 28.

She died on September 29 and was cremated at 3 a.m. on September 30. The family has alleged coercion regarding the time and manner in which the cremation took place.

Petitioner’s lawyer said “We are shocked at the incident.”

The Chief Justice replied everyone is shocked, and queried the lawyer on his client’s locus in the matter. “When a court asks you why are you here, you have to give different reasons…we understand your anxiety,” noted the bench.

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