The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court asserted with the responsibility of monitoring the probe into the Hathras gangrape and murder case, urged the CBI to let it know when its probe would conclude. The court claimed that “So far as the transfer of the Hathras case to Delhi is concerned, it is appropriate for the CBI to conclude the investigation and it will be decided at a later stage”.
Aam Aadmi Party MP Sanjay Singh questioned the delay in the CBI probe and accused the Yogi government of having defended the perpetrators. "The Yogi government is trying to save the culprits in the Hathras gang rape case and weakening it. The statement given before death is considered as a strong one and the victim had taken the names of the culprits,". He further accused the government of destroying the evidence, being anti-Dalit and instigating riots by terming the issue as an international conspiracy.
During the hearing, on November 2 by a bench of Justice Pankaj Mithal and Justice Rajan Roy that heard the PIL, called upon the CBI to provide further information by November 25 and asked the agency’s lawyer to file a status report following developments made regarding the probe. The bench also directed the CPRF to file an affidavit stating that it had provided security to the victim’s family members.
Uttar Pradesh authorities had previously received several heavy criticisms for the forced overnight burial of the victim’s body despite desperate pleas from kin and a delay in filing an FIR. Following the burial, further complications arose rendering the investigation to be surrounded by contradictions. While the family claimed that the victim’s tongue had been cut and her back broken, the Hathras police maintained that this was false and were rumours. In their medical report, doctor’s declared that there were signs of use of force but an opinion regarding penetration intercourse was pending. They further clarified that there had been no cuts on her tongue but that an ulcer was present, this could be the result of a previous injury. Although no obvious signs of any other assault were present, the victim was rendered unconscious.
A doctor of the JN medical college and Hospital in AMU said that “The cause of death will be known in the final post mortem report, but the kind of spinal cord damage we saw, it was severe enough to kill someone.”.
During the hearing, Hathras District Magistrate Praveen Kumar Laxkar was bought under consideration by the court regarding his continuing office during the pendency of the case. “…. whether it was fair and reasonable to allow the District Magistrate to continue at Hathras during the pendency of the investigation as also these proceedings before us regarding illegal cremation etc. when he was in the thick of things; and would it not be appropriate to shift him elsewhere during the pendency of these proceedings without there being any stigma attached to such an action… and only to ensure fairness and transparency in the matter,” read the court order, following the hearing. The suspended Hathras Superintendent of Police Vikrat Veer in an affidavit stated that he and the District Magistrate had decided to bury the victim’s body overnight. “Vikrant Veer, the erstwhile Superintendent of Police (Hathras)… filed an affidavit. He made a statement that it is he and the District Magistrate had taken the decision to cremate the victim’s body in the night,” it added.
The court stated that the burial was a violation of human rights and illegal for which the respondent would be held accountable. The 19-year-old Dalit woman had subsequently died succumbing to alleged gang rape. The hurried cremation without the family’s consent created an uproar and was referred to as defending the perpetrators. Although the investigations are seemingly being concluded at a slow pace, the high court has taken notice of the outrage caused and action against the biased actions taken by certain officers is yet to be taken.
Author: Zaid A. Sheriff