The Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court on Monday reserved its order in the Hathras case, while expressing concern over the Uttar Pradesh government not taking any action against District Magistrate Pravin Kumar for fairness of the probe. The state government, however, assured the court of a decision in this regard by November 25, the next date of hearing in the case. A bench of Justice Pankaj Mithal and Justice Rajan Roy was hearing a PIL which the court had earlier registered suo motu in the case.
The bench also directed the CBI, which is probing the case, to lay before it the status of investigation in the matter on the next date of hearing. A 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.
District Magistrate (DM) Pravin Kumar came under attack after the cremation of the victim in the dead of the night near her home on September 30, with her family members alleging that they were not allowed to bring the body home one last time. During the in-camera proceedings, the bench asked the state government as to what decision was taken regarding Kumar's action in the case. At this, the government defended the DM, saying he did not do any wrong.
The SP too was suspended owing to lack of proper handling of the probe in the alleged gang-rape case and not in the (cremation issue), the government counsel said. The bench noted that it had asked the state if it was right to retain Kumar in Hathras for maintaining impartiality and transparency, adding that the state had assured the court to do the needful in the matter.
Earlier, the state government, Kumar and suspended SP Vikrant Veer filed affidavits in the court. Additional Advocate General V K Sahi told the bench that the state government's affidavit contained a draft of the guidelines to be followed in Hathras-like situations as far as cremations were concerned.
In their affidavits, the DM and the suspended SP stated that the decision to cremate the victim in night was taken keeping in mind the situation in bona-fide manner and that kerosene was not used in the cremation. ADG (Law and Order) Prashant Kumar, Home Secretary Tarun Gaba and Vikrant Veer were also present in the court.
The court was also apprised that the compensation amount was transferred in the bank account of the victim's father. It was informed that the family was given security by CRPF. Senior Supreme Court lawyer Siddhartha Luthara, who appeared for the accused, requested the court not to make any observation in its orders that may affect the investigation.
Meanwhile, the victim's lawyer Seema Kushwaha reiterated her demand to transfer the trial in the case out of Uttar Pradesh. Central government's Assistant Solicitor General S P Raju and amicus curiae J N Mathur addressed the bench.