09, Oct 2020 | NH Web Desk
Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), led by Teesta Setalvad, has filed an intervention application in the Supreme Court in the Hathras case
The Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) has filed an intervention application before the Supreme Court seeking to intervene in the Hathras case. Among other prayers, the CJP has urged the Court to transfer the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and to ensure that proper witness protection is accorded in the case, legal news website LiveLaw.in has reported.
The intervention by the Teesta Setalvad-led CJP states that there are senior police officials and elected representatives who were “underplaying the heinous offence and prejudging the issue.”
The application refers to reports where it was stated that an officer involved in the probe said that there was “no sexual assault.”
The applicant further calls for the court to assign central reserve paramilitary forces for the security of the witnesses in the case, adding that none of the officers assigned should be from the cadre of Uttar Pradesh. The plea states that keeping in consideration “the economic background of the family of the deceased”, and to avoid their “further alientation and intimidation”, witness protection is needed.
“Although the 2018 Witness Protection Scheme has been around for close to a year, on the ground, India’s criminal justice system continues to reel without its implementation,” says the plea.
The plea also highlights the tights of the deceased with a focus on the rights of the Valmiki and marginalised communities. The plea cites numerous judgments from the top court including the 2002 verdict in the Ashray Adhikar Abhiyan case, where the court held that even a homeless deceased person has a right to a decent burial as per religious beliefs.
The IA points towards the October 2 statement from the Uttar Pradesh government where it was stated that a polygraph and a narco analysis test for the victim’s family would be conducted.
The applicant states that any such test would be in violation of the ruling in Selvi v. State of Karnataka where the top court held that “no individual should be forcibly subjected to any of the techniques in question whether in context of investigation in criminal case or otherwise. Doing so would amount to unwarranted intrusion into personal liberty.”
Substantiating the prayer for the case to be probed by the CBI under the supervision of the Supreme Court, the plea states that the mother of the victim had clearly stated that sexual assault had indeed taken place and that the victim in her video statements too gave a description of the upper caste men who sexually assaulted and raped her. However, even then certain videos were being circulated with “mala fide” intent stating that the girl never said she was raped.
The plea also prays that a retired Supreme Court judge be appointed to examine the circumstances which led to the cremation of the girl at night without her family.
On October 7, a bench of Chief Justice of India SA Bobde and Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian directed the Uttar Pradesh government to file an affidavit containing details on the protection offered to witnesses, and whether the victim’s family has chose a lawyer to represent them.
The court also asked for suggestions on how the scope of the proceedings before the Allahabad High Court can be widened.
The original article may be read here