The Allahabad High Court on Monday adjourned its hearing in the Hathras gangrape case to November 2, PTI reported.
Additional Advocate General V K Shahi, who represented the Uttar Pradesh government, spoke to the media outside the court premises. “On behalf of the government, we have filed our affidavit,” he said. “All family members of the victim appeared in court, and the court questioned them. The court questioned Additional Chief Secretary (Home), ADG [Additional director general of police] Law and Order and District Magistrate of Hathras.”
The lawyer for the woman’s family, meanwhile, said that they wanted the case to be transferred outside Uttar Pradesh. “The family wants the case to be transferred to Delhi or Mumbai,” Seema Kushwaha said. She added that the family wanted security.
The family had left from Hathras for Lucknow with tight security. Sub-Divisional Magistrate Anjali Ganwar said she was going with them. “Proper security arrangements have been made,” Ganwar had told ANI. “The district magistrate and superintendent of police is also accompanying us.”
Hathras Superintendent of Police Vineet Jaiswal on Sunday told the news agency that there was “sufficient security” for the family. “The local police are in touch with the family and nearby villages,” he said. Circle Office and Sub-Divisional Magistrate conducted peace meeting in the nearby villages and appealed to them not to pay attention rumours. Peace is being re-established in the area.”
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On September 14, four upper caste Thakur men had brutally raped and tortured the woman, who succumbed to her injuries on September 29. She had suffered multiple fractures and other serious injuries, and was left paralysed. The four men have been arrested.
In the events that followed, the Uttar Pradesh government forcibly cremated the body of the woman even as her family was detained in their home by the police, apparently with the aim to stop the incident from becoming a focus of violence. This led to an outpouring of anger and protests across the country.
On October 1, a division bench of the Allahabad High Court comprising Justices Rajan Roy and Jaspreet Singh took suo moto cognisance of the incident based on newspaper reports. It directed top officials of the Uttar Pradesh government and the police to appear before it on October 12.
The court noted 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”.
The bench termed the hurriedly carried out cremation “a disregard of protocol and highhandedness by the police”, which it said was carried out at the dead of the night without even permitting the family to carry out the last rites as per prevalent Hindu customs “in a decent and dignified manner”.
The Allahabad High Court also took into account the counter claims made by the Uttar Pradesh Police and particularly Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Prashant Kumar, who said “the cremation was done in the presence of family members and with their agreement,” a claim the family has refuted.
Kumar in a statement had claimed the woman’s “body was decomposing and that is why the family members agreed that cremating it late night itself would be better”. The court had ordered the authorities concerned to present the family members before it so that it could ascertain the facts and their version of events at the time of cremation of the woman’s body.