New Delhi, Oct 6 (PTI) Terming as 'shocking” and “horrible' the Hathras incident, the Supreme Court Tuesday said it would ensure a “smooth” investigation and sought Uttar Pradesh government's reply by October 8 on how the witnesses were being protected in the case in which a Dalit girl was allegedly brutally raped and died of injuries.
The Yogi Adityanath government, which filed an affidavit urging the top court to order a CBI probe into the incident, told the bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde that an innocent life has been lost and the central agency may be ordered to conduct the probe under the supervision of the apex court itself.
The state government vehemently sought judicial intervention to stop the spread of fake 'narratives after narratives” with 'oblique” and political motives about the incident.
“We will ensure that the investigation part is smooth,” said the bench, also comprising Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, and directed the state government to file an affidavit on witness protection and on whether the victim's family has chosen a lawyer.
“We want it on an affidavit on how the Hathras case witnesses are being protected. We want to know the scope of the Allahabad HC proceedings and want to explore as to how we can widen it (proceedings before SC) and make it relevant,” the bench observed The top court also asked lawyers of parties, appearing before it, to give suggestions on the scope of proceedings before the Allahabad High Court and how the apex court can make it more relevant.
It said the suggestions can be given to the Solicitor General in view of the fact that the state was not treating it as an adversarial litigation.
While raising questions about the locus standi of an unconnected party in a criminal case, the bench said: “We are not saying anything about the incident, the incident is horrible, shocking and extra-ordinary, but how can we hear identical arguments by so many lawyers.
'We are not saying you are busy bodies, we are only saying a court of law need not hear the same arguments by everybody.” The bench made this observation when few lawyers including senior advocate Indira Jaising argued in the matter. The apex court was hearing a PIL during which the state government expressed willingness to refer the investigation to the CBI and urged the court to monitor the probe.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the UP government, said, “Narratives after narratives being spread in Hathras case, this needs to be stopped.' 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.
He said the state government is not opposing the plea for a fair probe by the CBI or a Special Investigation Team (SIT) and said “a young innocent girl has lost her life, but nobody should sensationalise it. Investigation should be fair, appear fair”.
Jaising asked the top court to provide protection to the victim's family and said that the family has expressed that they are not satisfied with the CBI taking up the case.
She said that an SIT, monitored by the apex court, should probe the case.
Jaising said that witness protection was needed and the case be transferred and no lawyer should solicit in this case which should be dealt by NALSA.
“Jaising is asking for witness protection but many people do not know that the witnesses are already under protection... But there are people sitting on protests,” the Solicitor General said.
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 is 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 a 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.
Earlier, the state government, in its affidavit sought a CBI probe into the alleged gang-rape and death of the Dalit woman and said it is important that the investigation is carried out by an independent central agency.
The 19-year-old Dalit woman was allegedly raped by four upper-caste men in Hathras on September 14. She died on September 29 at Delhi''s Safdarjung Hospital during treatment.
The victim was cremated in the dead of the night near her home on September 30. Her family alleged they were forced by the local police to hurriedly conduct her last rites. Local police officers, however, said the cremation was carried out 'as per the wishes of the family'. PTI SJK MNL PKS SA