The Supreme Court, terming the Hathras incident as ‘horrible,’ directed the Uttar Pradesh government to inform it by October 8 about the steps taken to protect witnesses in the case in which a Dalit girl was allegedly brutally gangraped and subsequently succumbed to her injuries. The apex court directed the Yogi Adityanath government to file an affidavit in this regard and also ascertain whether the victim's family has chosen a lawyer.
The apex court observation came while hearing a PIL during which the state government expressed willingness to refer the investigation to the CBI on the ground that fake narratives were being spread about the case with political motives. A bench comprising Chief Justice SA Bobde and Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian said it will ensure that the investigation is smooth in the case.
The top court also asked all parties appearing before it to give suggestions on the scope of proceedings before the Allahabad high court and how the apex court can make it more relevant.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the UP government, said, “Narratives after narratives being spread in Hathras case, this needs to be stopped."
The CBI probe in Hathras case will ensure no vested interests will be able to create fake, false narrative with oblique motives, Mehta told the court.
The state government told the top court that the probe in Hathras case may be conducted by the CBI under the apex court's supervision.
Mehta said the state government is not opposing the plea for a fair probe by the CBI or a Special Investigation Team and said a young innocent girl has lost her life, but nobody should sensationalise it. “Investigation should be fair, appear fair,” he said.
Senior Advocate Indira Jaising, appearing for few intervenors, asked the top court to provide protection to the victim's family. Jaising said the family has expressed that they are not satisfied with the CBI taking up the case and said an SIT, monitored by the apex court, should probe the case.
At this point, the bench asked Jaising what her locus standi was in the case.
“You don't have any locus in this matter. But we are hearing you because the case is such and of huge importance. We are hearing you because this is a shocking incident, but we are still pondering over your locus in this case," said the bench.
Advocate Kirti Singh, appearing for a few woman lawyers, said the probe should be under the supervision of the court. The apex court said this is a horrible incident but it does not want repetitive arguments in court.
“It is a horrible incident but the question is how many similar arguments should we hear? Please understand that there is no need to duplicate concerns in the court of law," the bench said.
"Court of law need not hear the same argument by every party. This is not a comment on the incident but please understand our point of view," it added.
UP govt recommends CBI probe
The Uttar Pradesh government earlier in the day sought a CBI probe into the alleged gang-rape and death of the Dalit woman, saying it will ensure that no vested interest is able to create a fake and false narrative with "oblique motives."
In an affidavit filed in response to a PIL, which has been listed for hearing before a bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde, the UP government said it is important that the investigation is carried out by an independent central agency.
It said the state has already requested the Centre that the CBI take over the investigation as it would obviate hindrance being created by certain vested interests in the fair and impartial investigation.
The CBI probe will also ensure that no vested interests will be able to create a fake and false narrative with oblique motives, it said. Quoting FSL reports, it has however denied the charge that rape was committed.
The government said that it itself prays to the top court to keep PIL filed by social activist Satyama Dubey pending allowing the investigation by CBI to be conducted under the supervision of this court in a time-bound manner.
The 19-year-old Dalit woman was allegedly raped by four upper-caste men in Hathras on September 14. She died on September 29 at Delhi''s Safdarjung Hospital during treatment. The victim was cremated in the dead of the night near her home on September 30. Her family alleged they were forced by the local police to hurriedly conduct her last rites. Local police officers, however, said the cremation was carried out "as per the wishes of the family".