India

Hathras gangrape: Supreme Court asks Allahabad HC to monitor CBI probe

The Bench said the question of transferring the trial to Delhi would be left open for now till the CBI completed its investigation

The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Allahabad High Court to monitor the CBI investigation into the gangrape and murder of a 19-year-old Dalit girl allegedly by four upper caste Hindu youths in Hathras district of Uttar Pradesh.

Handing the baton over to the High Court, a three-judge Bench led by Chief Justice of India Sharad A. Bobde requested it to supervise every aspect of the ongoing investigation.

The Bench said the question of transferring the trial to Delhi would be left open for now till the CBI completed its investigation. The court did not intervene in the safety cordon in place for the protection of the victim’s family members and witnesses. Any further changes required in the safety measures would be taken care of by the High Court.

The Bench expressed confidence in the CBI’s ability to conduct a free and fair investigation, saying there would be “no room” to conclude otherwise.

Also read | Two AMU doctors ‘sacked’ over speaking to media in Hathras case

On the last day of hearing when the case was reserved for judgment on October 15, Chief Justice Bobde had verbally indicated the Supreme Court’s intention to have the High Court keep an eagle’s eye on the probe. “We (Supreme Court) are anyway here as appellate, ultimate supervisory body, but let the Allahabad HC do it... We are always here,” Chief Justice Bobde had orally remarked.

The judgment came on the basis of a batch of petitions filed by activist Satyama Dubey, represented by advocates Sanjeev Malhotra and Pradeep Kumar Yadav. This petition had sought a court-monitored probe and transfer of trial to Delhi.

Plea to probe complicity

Another petition filed by activist Chetan Janardhan Kamble, represented by advocate Vipin Nair, had sought an independent investigation into the role played by medical staff and top Uttar Pradesh Police officers in the alleged “destruction of evidence” in the Hathras rape and murder case.

“The facts clearly indicate the involvement and complicity of certain U.P. State Police and officials of the State government machinery in manipulation and destruction of evidence and shielding the accused in respect of the subject crime,” Mr. Kamble had argued.

This petition had even contended how “certain high-ranking police and government officials, even before the investigation was complete, had ruled out the possibility of rape, and made public statements to this extent”.

These questions will now be looked into by the High Court.

On October 15, both the Uttar Pradesh government and the State Director General of Police (DGP) had left it to judicial wisdom to decide which court should supervise the probe, saying their only purpose was to see justice in the case.

“Do not be concerned... State government has raised no objections. There should not be any shadow of doubt. The CBI took over the case on October 10 and the investigation is going on,” Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, for the Uttar Pradesh government, had submitted.

Mr. Mehta had only objected to a plea that the chargesheet in the case should be filed in Delhi. He said the final report ought to be filed in the jurisdictional court as per the law.

The DGP, to a plea that CRPF personnel and not the State Police should form the security net around the victim’s family and witnesses, had also left it to the court to decide “whoever best protects the family”.

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