Hathras case is shocking, extraordinary: SC

Asks UP govt to clarify whether witnesses are being given adequate protection

A bench headed by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) S.A. Bobde on Tuesday observed that the Hathras incident was a “shocking” and “extraordinary” incident and asked the Uttar Pradesh government to clarify whether the witnesses in the case are being given adequate protection.

 Senior advocate and SG Tushar Mehta appeared for Uttar Pradesh government and said: “We are not opposing the petition. There are vicious and motivated false narratives being spread by vested interests about the incident and that is the reason why the UP government decided to recommend a CBI probe.” 

“The incident has assumed importance and there must be a free and fair trial. There should be an investigation and that should be monitored by this Court,” SG said.

 “There are narratives within narratives spread by social media and even a TV journalist was heard coaxing the victim’s relative to seek more compensation,” the SG added. 

Senior advocate Indira Jaising appeared for the petitioner and urged for witness protection, transfer of trial and added that “we want that no lawyer should solicit in this case. The issue of transfer can be done only by this court and Your Lordships’ jurisdiction can be invoked for doing complete justice”. 

Then, CJI Bobde asked Jaising, “Are you asking for the trial to be transferred or the investigation to be transferred? The incident is very extraordinary and shocking; that is why we are hearing you, but otherwise, we are not sure if you have locus in this criminal case.”

 “We are not saying this is not a shocking case, or that we don’t appreciate your involvement in the case, but we are only trying to say that your client may not have locus in the case,” the CJI said.

 The Supreme Court asked the UP government to file an affidavit detailing the witness protection efforts on the ground in this case. The Supreme Court also asked the UP government to find out the scope of the Hathras rape case matter being dealt with by the Allahabad High Court and said it will deal with the issue to “make it wider and relevant”. The court listed the case for further hearing next week. 

The Supreme Court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation seeking probe into the Hathras case by the CBI/SIT and shifting of the trial out of Uttar Pradesh. 

Satyama Dubey, Vishal Thakre and Rudra Pratap Yadav had filed a petition before the Supreme Court, seeking a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) or a Special Investigation Team (SIT) monitored by a sitting or retired Supreme Court or High Court Judge in the gruesome gang-rape and murder of a 19-year-old woman in Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras district.

 The petitioners also sought the trial in the case to be transferred out of Uttar Pradesh to Delhi and for a direction from the Court to ensure there is a speedy trial.

 Grave injustice had been done to the victim and the system is silent on the issue, the plea said. The petitioners have raised questions about the role played by police personnel in the horrific case and alleged that the police authorities had not performed their duties towards the victim and are trying to shield the accused persons for reasons best known to them.

 There was no arrest done in the matter; the accused persons are moving freely and they have no fear at all and they have not been arrested by the police, the plea added.