In September, a 19-year-old woman died in Hathras, Uttar Pradesh, after reporting gang rape and brutal abuse. The victim has been struggling for her life for two weeks. On the morning of 29th September, unfortunately, she died in the Delhi hospital to which she had been shifted for the injuries suffered during the attack. The case hit the headlines soon after police and administration officials cremated their bodies in the middle of the night of 29 September-a decision the family said was made against their permission and sparked doubt. After her passing, the state government has maintained that she has not been raped at all. In a series of off-the-record conversations, authorities sought to refute or downplay the accusation of rape. The senior officer, Additional Director General Prashan Kumar, said that the victim's family had not reported the rape in the original complaint, citing a forensic report that said the rape had not been registered, no semen was found in her viscera sample-a statement refuted by experts who point out that the absence of semen in this sample does not exclude rape. Doctors at the Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College Hospital (JNMCH) in Aligarh, where she had been treated for two weeks, found out that the forensic study was based on samples taken 11 days after the attack. Protocol notes that all information collected more than four days after the rape is worthless.
In the Writ Petition filed pursuant to Article 32 of the Constitution of India, petitioners are asking that the Union of India and the authorities concerned be directed to perform a fair inquiry; if necessary, by referring the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation ('CBI' for short) or the SIT to inquire the matter. It is, therefore, demanded that a serving or former Supreme Court Justice or High Court Judge be named to consider the case. The petitioners have demanded that the case be moved from Hathras, Uttar Pradesh, to Delhi.
While discarding the petitions related to the Hathras gang-rape and murder case, the Supreme Court ordered the protection of the victim's families and the witnesses to be ensured by the CRPF within one week. The Chief Justice of India SA Bobde said that it is "convinced that the State Government has taken measures to ensure the safety of the victim's families and witnesses". Though in the present case, it is appropriate to resolve the normal interpretation and pessimism which cannot be assumed to be without reason, the constitutional bench also comprised of Justices AS Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian further ordered:-
"In that view, without casting any aspersions on the security personnel of the State Police; to allay all apprehensions and only as a confidence-building measure, we find it appropriate to direct that the security to the victim's family and the witnesses shall be provided by the CRPF within a week from today".
The Court also ordered the Allahabad High Court to track the continuing investigation of the Hathras gang-rape and murder case by the CBI.
The CBI shall submit a report to the high court in the manner that the high court has ordered to submit the report from time-time, the apex court stated.
As regards the petition for transferring of the trial beyond the State of Uttar Pradesh, the court claimed that the matter of transferring remained open until the inquiry had been finished. "On this stage, we are also of the opinion that it would be sufficient for the enforcement agency to conclude the investigation and, in any case, because the local police have been excluded from the investigation and the CBI is undertaking the investigation, there would be no space for apprehension at this time. However, the question as to whether the prosecution of the case is to be moved is an issue that remains subject to consideration if the need arises in the future," the Court opined.
The Court refused to issue any particular orders involving the appointment of a special public prosecutor.
"This is a factor that may be found by the High Court in the light of the provisions of the Act on Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Atrocities Prevention) of 1989. In the case that the victims' family members choose to engage Ms. Seema Kushwaha and Mr. Raj Ratan, the Lawyers, they will consider these things and make a submission on behalf of the victim, in compliance with the law, if such a need occurs, "the court held.
The Court also observed that the identity and connexion of the family members to the victim had been disclosed in the order passed by the High Court of Allahabad. "As there is a legal duty to prohibit such publishing, the High Court is requested to delete the same and also change the same in digital records and to do so prevent any disclosure of such content in the future," the Court ordered.
Multiple aspects of the matter remain open for consideration by the Allahabad High Court in relation to the incident with respect to which the inquiry is to be undertaken by the CBI and also in relation to the complaint received alleging unlawful cremation.