The Allahabad High Court on Thursday took suo motu cognisance of the Hathras gangrape case and directed top officials of the Uttar Pradesh government and the police to appear before it on October 12, Bar and Bench reported.

The court noted that the case was of “immense public importance and public interest as it involved allegations of high-handedness by the state authorities resulting in violation of basic human and fundamental rights not only of the deceased victim but also her family members”.

Justices Rajan Roy and Jaspreet Singh added that the incident had shocked them. “The incidents which took place after the death of the victim on 29.09.2020 leading up to her cremation, as alleged, have shocked our conscience, therefore, we are taking suo moto cognisance of the same,” they said.

The judges added that the hurried cremation had added to the family’s grief. “As it is, the deceased victim was treated with extreme brutality by the perpetrators of the crime and what is alleged to have happened thereafter, if true, amounts to perpetuating the misery of the family and rubbing salt in their wounds.”

“We are inclined to examine as to whether there has been gross violation of the fundamental rights of the deceased victim and the family members of the victim; whether the State Authorities have acted oppressively high handedly and illegally to violate such rights as if it is found to be so, then, this would be 9 a case where accountability will not only have to be fixed but for future guidance also stern action would be required.”  

— Justices Rajan Roy and Jaspreet Singh

Two weeks ago, the Dalit woman was tortured and raped by four upper caste men. The woman died on Tuesday at the Safdarjung Hospital in Delhi. She had suffered multiple fractures and other serious injuries when the four accused raped her in her village on September 14. The four men have been arrested. However, the woman was hastily cremated, which led to outrage in political circles.

The incident has triggered nationwide outrage against sexual violence that women face, and has foregrounded the deteriorating law and order situation in Uttar Pradesh. Several politicians called the hasty cremation an abuse of human rights. They have also questioned the exploitative caste hierarchy in the state under Adityanath’s rule.

The Uttar Pradesh Police on Thursday claimed that the woman’s forensic lab report showed that she was not raped. Experts, however, pointed out that since the samples for the test were collected days after the crime, sperm would not be present, NDTV reported. The autopsy report of the woman showed that she was strangled and suffered cervical spine injury, according to the news channel. The final diagnosis did not mention rape but pointed out that there were tears in her genitalia.