Hathras case: 11 activists, journalists, academics file an Impleadment Application in SC

Women and queer persons from across the country have come together seeking CBI/SIT probe into the tragic death and cremation of a Dalit girl, also demand protection be provided to the family.

hathras gang rape

Image courtesy: Shaheen Abdulla/Maktoob (File Photo)


The brutal manner in which a 19-year-old Dalit woman was gang raped allegedly by four ‘upper-caste’ men, the fact that her spine was broken leaving her paralysed, and that the severity of her injuries eventually led to her death, has shaken the nation’s conscience. What was equally shocking was the shoddy investigation, and forced cremation of the victim’s body by the police.

On October 13, 2020, 11 women and queer activists, journalists and academics approached the Supreme Court via an Impleadment Application in the Hathras case. The application moved through Advocate Satya Mitra provides an insight into caste-based atrocities that take place in India, especially against Dalit women. The applicants are:

1.      Radhika Vemula (A Dalit activist against caste discrimination and the mother of Rohith Vemula – who died by suicide in 2016 owing to caste harassment)

2.      Cynthia Stephen (Dalit activist, writer, journalist)

3.      Grace Banu (Dalit and Transgender activist and engineer)

4.      Manjula Pradeep (Former Executive Director of Navsarjan Trust, activist and lawyer)

5.      Pradnya Daya Pawar (Dalit feminist poet)

6.      Sujatha Surepally (Activist and academician)

7.      Disha Pinky Sheikh (Transgender writer and poet, State spokesperson of Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi)

8.      Chhaya Khobragade (Founder President of Sambuddha Mahila Sanghathan, activist and author)

9.      Neetisha Khalkho (Learned poet from Oraon Community)

10.   Swati Kamble (Ph.D. researcher at the University of Geneva, Dalit Bahujan activist) and

11.   Riya Singh (Feminist and Doctoral fellow at Indian Council of Social Science Research)

The Impleadment Application states that all these 11 applicants “collectively possess field experience and analytical data which and above all personal struggles that provide insights into caste-based atrocities faced by Dalits, especially Dalit women and limitations to speedy and fair access to the criminal justice system to Dalit girls and women in India.”

The applicants/impleaders emphasised that even though statutes that safeguard their interests like the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and Untouchability Offences Act are in place, community abuse against the marginalised section continue. The Hathras Tragedy just reiterates the historical caste feud that exposes women and children to the most vulnerable situations.

Acknowledging that Uttar Pradesh has the maximum number of cases of atrocities at a whopping 70, 266 pending before 40 special courts with 40 public prosecutors, the state machinery is choked with systemic caste-based discrimination. The petition states, “Complacency of the State of Uttar Pradesh is evidence from the fact that the State has not even identified “atrocities prone areas” as per Rule 3 of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Rules (PoA Rules), 1995 despite being the state with highest cases of atrocities against SC/ST community.”  

Rule 3 states that “With a view to prevent atrocities on the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes the State Government shall- (i) identify the area where it has reason to believe that atrocity may take place or there is an apprehension of reoccurrence of an offence under the Act, (vii) set up a vigilance and monitoring committee to suggest effective measures to implement the provisions of the Act.”

The petition questions the ability of the Police in their mismanagement of law and order and also the State’s lack of sensitivity in recommending the humiliating narco analysis test on the grieving family. The Applicants have also laid down data between 2006 to 2016 suggesting the rise in crime against Dalit women highlighting a strange culture of caste impunity some upper caste Indians enjoy.

The applicants have prayed for the transfer of the case to Delhi special court for a speedy trial, constitution of an independent SIT by the Hon’ble court that can monitor the investigation, devoid of any political interference from the State or Centre. In order to protect the family from inhuman and cruel treatment, it has also been prayed to restrict the State from using any narco analysis or polygraph tests. They’ve also prayed for a strict implementation of the SC/ST Act especially in the State of Uttar Pradesh and to offer security to the rights of the victim’s family members taking into consideration their special needs that might arise out of any educational, age or gender disadvantage.

This PIL under Article 32 of the Constitution that gives every individual the right to approach the Supreme Court for the enforcement of their rights has unveiled right after the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad court opined that the young girl’s late night cremation was an infringement of her and the family’s right to a life of dignity and dignity even after death as well as to a decent cremation, on October 12. 

The Impleadment Application may be read here:



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