05, Dec 2019 | Sanchita Kadam
NHRC has taken up the cudgels to ensure women’s safety in the country, as it recently asked state governments as well as the Centre to submit SOP on women’s safety measures. It is proving to be a strong entity and nodal agency for human rights and is actively taking cognizance of issues, something that is expected of a body of its stature and standing. On the same lines, it has proceeded with an inquiry in a rape case in Sultanpur, which missed the public eye but a complaint from CJP will hopefully culminate into justice for the victim.
On October 1, CJP had filed a petition before the NHRC to bring to its notice the blatant inaction and alleged representation of false facts by the police in Sultanpur District, Uttar Pradesh. The petition emphasized that “the police, clearly failed to follow protocol in terms of primary investigation and on top of that are making false claims with respect to the post mortem and are representing false facts and the reason for the same is still unknown.”
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On September 10, villagers from Baijapur in Sultanpur district of Uttar Pradesh woke up to the mutilated body of a young girl hung from a tree, not much unlike the Badaun rape case. The incident was also reminiscent of the Nirbhaya rape case given how a stick had been inserted in the victim’s private parts.
Though media reportage on the matter has ranged between nil to limited, CJP has been following the case ever since it came to light. Some examples of the possible instances of investigative lacunae up are as follows:
- The police allegedly recorded an FIR attributing the information to the owner of the field where the body was discovered. However, the man later claimed in an interview to a local journalist that he was not the one to discover the body. He also said that he was not given a copy of the FIR.
- The post mortem was allegedly not conducted within 24 hours of the body being discovered, leading to possible loss of key forensic information.
- The post mortem found several serious injuries to the victim’s private parts including tears in her uterus, but these were not mentioned by the police in their public statement where they only limited themselves to talking about strangulation as the cause of death, purportedly to put a shroud over the brutality of the crime, limiting it to just a murder case, when clearly there was a grievous sexual assault that preceded the victim’s eventual death.
- The police claimed that investigation was taking time as they were unable to identify the victim. However, the identity of the victim should never be a hurdle in conducting inquiries pertinent to the case.
The police investigations were proceeding at a snail’s pace in a case of such a heinous crime that needed a strong primary investigation in order to nab the culprits and also to identify the victim. Bu the lapses in procedure raised suspicions of deliberate delays and lapses and hence the NHRC was approached.
Status of the case
The case was registered by the NHRC on November 5 under Case No. 29482/24/70/2019WC. Action was taken on November 14 and an ‘Action Taken Report’ was called for by the Commission from the DGP (Director General of Police), Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. The Commission has given the DGP, Uttar Pradesh time till December 29, failing which the Commission will be constrained to invoke coercive process under section 13 of the Protection of Human Rights Act for personal appearance of concerned authorities. The next date of hearing is January 7, 2020.
Closely related to this case, is the case of an eminent journalist in Sultanpur who was closely monitoring and reporting on the proceedings of this case and was eventually threatened by the Superintendent of Police (SP), Sultanpur for reporting on the police inaction. CJP approached the NHRC in this matter as well, the petition can be read here
(Feature Image – Business Standard)