Inform by Oct 8 about steps to protect Hathras witnesses: SC

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Inform by Oct 8 about steps to protect Hathras witnesses: SC

Wednesday, 07 October 2020 | PNS | New Delhi

Inform by Oct 8 about steps to protect Hathras witnesses: SC

Court describes crime as horrible, asks UP Govt about legal aid to victim’s family; Govt says it favours a court-monitored CBI probe

The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the Uttar Pradesh Government to inform it by October 8 about the steps taken to protect witnesses in the Hathras horror case in which a Dalit girl was brutally raped following which she succumbed to injuries.

Describing the crime as  “horrible”, the court also asked the State Government about legal aid to the victim’s family.

Hearing a PIL, a bench comprising Chief Justice SA Bobde and Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian asked all parties appearing before it to give suggestions on the scope of proceedings before the Allahabad HC and how the SC can make it more relevant.

The State Government said it favoured a court-monitored CBI probe because fake narratives were being spread.

“Narratives after narratives being spread in Hathras case, this needs to be stopped,” said Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the UP Government.

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.

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”.

Senior Advocate Indira Jaising, appearing for a 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 a shocking incident, but we are still pondering over your locus in this case,” said the bench.

Advocate Kirti Singh, appearing for a few women 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 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.

The Uttar Pradesh Government earlier in the day sought a CBI probe into the alleged gang-rape and murder 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 takes over the investigation as it would obviate hindrance being created by certain vested interests in the fair and impartial investigation.

Quoting FSL reports, it has however denied the charge that rape was committed.

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