Outraged by the UP government’s blatant violation of the rule of law, the Constitutional Conduct Group has written an open letter to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on October 3, 2020.
“Just when we thought that nothing could numb our consciences and brains further, the handling of the Hathras incident by the Uttar Pradesh administration has shown that, as a nation, we are plumbing the depths of depravity and callousness in governance,” said the letter. The organisation blamed Yogi for the recent submission of the state bureaucracy. They urged the Chief of Executive to conduct the state administration “in accordance with the letter and spirit of the Constitution of India, to which you [Yogi] have sworn allegiance when you assumed office.”
Expressing rage about the recent case of sexual assault in Hathras, the retired officer demanded justice to the victim and her family, despite the efforts of specific upper caste groups to interfere with the course of justice. “Almost three weeks after the incident, the police are yet to confirm the crime of rape and are still spinning theories around it, although the video of what amounts to her dying declaration seems to confirm it,” they said.
Noting Yogi’s own Hindu faith, the Group said that he of all people should understand the gravity of last rites in Hindu customs that require the nearest kin to burn the pyre of the deceased. Both the sacred traditions and the family’s pleas to perform the cremation in the morning were ignored, they said.
They appalled at the local police who told the bereaved family that they were “also to blame” and the District Magistrate who was caught on video making veiled threats to the family. They also raised concern about rumours that said the Prime Minister asked Yogi to “fast track” the case for an early conviction.
“With our experience as erstwhile administrators in different departments of the central and state governments, our group of former civil servants had, in the past, highlighted the brazen violations of the rule of law in the Unnao rape case and in the murder of the police inspector in Bulandshahr,” they said.
Yet, even after two years, the ghastly murder of failed to stir the UP police. The retired officials also expressed skepticism about UP’s fast track justice system following two instances where alleged criminals died while being transported by the police. This denial of a fair trial violated Article 21 of the Constitution, they said. The members said that Yogi seemed to believe in combining the roles of judge and executioner illustrating examples of draconian measures of detention and punitive fines during the anti-CAA protests. They also condemned his recent order to withdraw all cases registered against him. They asked, “Politicians never tire of saying ‘the law must take its course’. Why depart from this article of faith for your party and government?”
The organisation demanded punishment for all those complicit in the disposal of evidence in the Hathras case. Along with the suspension of the Superintendent of Police, they said adequate procedure should be followed for immediate suspension of the District Magistrate.
Furthermore, they demanded action against all district police officers and the executive magistracy under Section 4 of The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
“We also note with regret that the Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police have failed abjectly in exercising control over a highly compromised administration. We urge them to live up to the proud traditions of the Indian Administrative Service and the Indian Police Service, in whom the people of this country still repose faith,” they said.
The group said that the meek surrender of the bureaucracy and police to political diktat shamed all those who deemed the title of ‘IAS’ a badge of honour.