27, Oct 2020 | CJP Team
On October 27, 2020 a Supreme Court bench comprising Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde and Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian directed that Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel provide witness protection to the family of the victim in the Hathras gangrape and murder case. CJP had filed an intervention application in the case seeking witness protection by central paramilitary forces.
The Supreme Court has also directed the Allahabad High Court to monitor the ongoing CBI probe into the case, as well as erase all mention of the victim’s identity and that of her family from its previous order in the case. The three judge bench also directed the HC to look into all aspects of the case as raised in the petition and intervention applications. The matter of transfer of the case outside Uttar Pradesh was kept open till the end of investigations.
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On the subject of witness protection by CRPF, the court directed that CRPF provide security to the victim’s family and the witnesses within a week from today’s order. It said, “Having taken note of the contentions and having perused the affidavit filed on behalf of the State Government we are convinced that steps have been taken by the State Government to make adequate arrangements for security to the victim’s family and witnesses. However, in a matter of present nature it is necessary to address the normal perception and pessimism which cannot be said as being without justification. In that view, without casting any aspersions on the security personnel of the State Police: in order to allay all apprehensions and only as a confidence building measure, we find it appropriate to direct that the security to the victim’s family and the witnesses shall be provided by the CRPF within a week from today.”
Citizens for Justice and Peace in its intervention application (Crl. M.P. No. 102148 of 2020) as listed third in the Supreme Court order dated October 27, 2020 had prayed for a judicial monitoring of the investigation, the protection of witnesses by Central paramilitary forces, and appointment of a retired Supreme Court Judge to investigate the circumstances which led to the cremation of the victim on September 30, 2020.
The order may be read here:
The SC passed the order in the case titled called Satyama Dubey and ors vs Union of India (W.P Cri. No. 296 of 2020). Ruling against the immediate transfer of the case until the trial is completed, the Order states, “On this aspect we are also of the view that it would be appropriate for investigating agency to complete the investigation and in any event since the local police have been divested of the investigation and the CBI is carrying out the investigation there would be no room for apprehensions at this stage. However, the issue as to whether the trial of the case is to be transferred is a matter which is kept open to be considered if need arises in future.”
The court also observed that the victim’s family members name and relationship with her was clearly depicted in an earlier High Court order of October 12, 2020 and the same should be removed. “Since it is a requirement of law to avoid such disclosure, the High Court is requested to delete the same and also morph the same in the digital records and avoid indication of such contents in the future”, it remarked.
The bench also took cognisance of the various Intervention Applications and Writ Petitions that were filed by individual activists, organisations and also the members of the Delhi High Court and Supreme Court Bar Association seeking CBI probe, witness protection, transfer of the case out of Uttar Pradesh, etc.