Citizens for Justice and Peace

Hathras rape case: Teesta Setalvad’s NGO files witness protection plea in Supreme Court The Telegraph

09, Oct 2020 | Legal Correspondent

Citizens for Justice and Peace, the outfit run by the prominent Gujarat-based activist, has sought transfer of the trial to Delhi

Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), an NGO, on Thursday filed an intervention application before the Supreme Court in the Hathras gang-rape-and-murder case, urging it to ensure proper protection to witnesses and transfer of the trial to Delhi.

Run by prominent Gujarat-based activist Teesta Setalvad, the CJP has pleaded that as a human rights organisation with a long history of defending victims against the mighty state, in the courts and beyond, it felt compelled to move the Supreme Court “primarily since there are widespread news reports attributed to senior police officials and elected representatives who are trying to underplay the heinous and actually prejudging the issues. For example, there are reports of a senior police officer saying that there was no sexual assault”.

“It is rather alarming that an officer at that level is making these public statements when investigation is still in progress and the final outcome would be post the trial. It is rather alarming that when this Hon’ble Court has repeatedly stated that cases of sexual violence have to be handled with utmost sensitivity, these brazen statements are being made in the public domain,” the application filed through advocate Aparna Bhat stated.

“In these circumstances, having had the experience of working with victims who were threatened and intimidated by the mighty state in the past… the application is bona fide and made in the interests of justice,” it added.

According to the CJP, its plea on several pertinent human rights aspects appeared to have been ignored in this case so far.

“For example, should one not take into consideration the rights of the deceased? This matter becomes significant in the light of allegations of forced cremation of the victim’s body by police in the middle of the night, denying her family the right to take her body back to the village. Given that the family hails from the historically oppressed Dalit community, and several ‘upper-caste’ groups are allegedly attempting to spin the narrative, the safety of the family is also of paramount importance. Thus, witness protection is another aspect of the case that CJP wants to highlight,” the application said.

The organisation also sought to bring to light the following facts for the top court’s considerations:

  • Admissibility of the narco analysis test
  • Importance of dying declaration
  • Relevance of forensic reports and other medical evidence in rape cases
  • Preservation of evidence
  • National Crime Records Bureau’s data on crimes against women and Dalits, and
  • Transfer of investigation

It has also sought the following directions from the court:

  • A Supreme Court-monitored investigation by the CBI
  • Protection of witnesses by Central Paramilitary Forces
  • A judicial inquiry by a retired Supreme Court judge on the circumstances that led to the cremation of the victim’s body in the middle of the night in an open field, allegedly without the family’s consent.

The original report may be read here.



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