Hathras case: Civil rights activist moves SC for court-monitored CBI probe, witness protection

Civil rights activist Teesta Setalvad led Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) has approached the Supreme Court to transfer the Hathras case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and ensure proper witness protection is accorded in the case.

The plea said that there are senior police officials and elected representatives who were “underplaying” the heinous offence and “prejudging” the issue. The CJP moved the court while filing an intervention application seeking to intervene in the Hathras case pending before it.

The application has urged the apex court that a retired Supreme Court judge be appointed to examine the circumstances which led to the cremation of the girl at night without her family.

It also referred to reports where it was stated that an officer involved in the probe said that there was “no sexual assault.”

The mother of the victim had clearly stated that sexual assault had indeed taken place and that the victim in her video statements too gave a description of the upper caste men who sexually assaulted and raped her, the application said. However, it added that even then certain videos were being circulated with mala fide intent stating that the girl never said she was raped.

The application also pointed out the October 2 statement from the Uttar Pradesh government, where it was stated that a polygraph and a narco analysis test for the victim’s family would be conducted.

The CJP sought directions from the court to assign Central Reserve Paramilitary Force (CRPF) for the security of the witnesses in the case and asked that none of the officers assigned should be from the cadre of Uttar Pradesh.

It said that witness protection is needed while considering the economic background of the victim’s family and to avoid their further alienation and intimidation.

The Supreme Court had, on October 7, while hearing a PIL for court-monitored CBI probe into the case, directed the Uttar Pradesh government to file an affidavit containing details on the protection offered to witnesses, whether the victim’s family has chosen a lawyer, and how the scope of the suo-motu case pending before the Allahabad High Court be widened.

A 19-year-old Dalit girl succumbed to her injuries at Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital on September 29 after allegedly being gang-raped and assaulted in Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras on September 14. Her mortal remains were taken to her native place, where the UP Police and administration allegedly forcefully cremated her body without the family’s consent or their presence.

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