‘Extraordinary and shocking’: SC seeks UP response on witness protection in Hathras case

‘Extraordinary and shocking’: SC seeks UP response on witness protection in Hathras case

They are appearing for the UP government, lawman Tushar Mehta said different narratives were being given to the incident and therefore the apex court must supervise the investigation.

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They have Called the alleged rape and murder of a Dalit woman in Hathras “extraordinary and shocking”, the Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Uttar Pradesh government to file an affidavit on how witnesses were being protected within the case. The matter has been adjourned for next week.

Hearing a petition seeking a search by the CBI or a Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by a sitting or retired SC or supreme court judge, judge of India SA Bobde said, “The incident is extremely extraordinary and shocking. we would like it on affidavit on how Hathras case witnesses are protected. we would like you (SG) to determine whether the victim’s family has chosen a lawyer.’

Appearing for the UP government, lawman Tushar Mehta said different narratives were being given to the incident and therefore the apex court must supervise the investigation.

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“There are narratives and narratives but the sad truth is that a lass has lost her life. There should be an investigation which should be monitored by this court,” Mehta said.

Senior Counsel Indira Jaising sought protection for witnesses and transfer of the trial from UP. “We want that no lawyer should solicit during this case,” she said. To this, SG Mehta said witnesses were already protected. “You don’t need a statute for witness protection. they’re going to need to be protected,” Mehta said.

Also Read: UP CM Yogi Adityanath recommends CBI probe in Hathras gang-rape case

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The petition by Satyama Dubey, a social activist, and advocates Vishal Thakre and Rudra Pratap Yadav wanted the trial to be shifted to Delhi and alleged that the UP government and therefore the state authorities had “failed to take…actions against accused persons…”.

The Dalit woman who was assaulted allegedly by four upper caste men on September 14 gave up the ghost last week, triggering widespread national outrage and protests by the Opposition. Reports of her hurried cremation without involving the victim’s family allegedly under police pressure has also led the Opposition to question the law and order situation in UP.

Earlier within the day, in its affidavit, the Uttar Pradesh government sought an investigation into the Hathras case by the CBI under the supervision of the apex court, saying it might make sure that no “vested interest is in a position to make a fake and false narrative with oblique motives”.

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Besides the alleged gangrape and assault case, the govt also sought a CBI probe into the FIR associated with the alleged criminal conspiracy to spread caste conflict, instigate violence, and incidents of vicious propaganda by sections of media and political interests.

“Despite diligent probe by state, different false narratives started gaining momentum at the behest of some vested interests,” the affidavit said.

The UP government also highlighted the role of social media, certain sections of print and electronic media along side some sections of the political parties in making a deliberate and planned plan to incite caste/communal riots within the state using the incident.

“Some sections of the social, electronic medium and a few sections of the political parties are seeking to deliberately interfere within the process and not permitting the reality to be unveiled and guilty to be punished,” the affidavit said.

The government further said “extraordinary circumstances and sequence of unlawful incidents” forced the District Administration to require the extraordinary step of cremating the victim in the dark “in presence of the relations who agreed to attend to avoid further violence”.

Amid a row over UP ADG (Law and Order) Prashant Kumar’s remarks that the 19-year-old wasn’t raped, the affidavit mentioned that there was a video where the mother and daughter “clearly stated that she wasn’t injured anywhere else aside from the neck, that accused was only Sandeep and zip else had happened”.

The woman had provided the small print of the alleged sexual abuse after she regained consciousness at the AMU hospital on September 22, eight days after the assault. After her statement was recorded before a magistrate, police had added relevant sections of rape to the FIR.

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