Hathras case: Allahabad HC refuses to stay or transfer ongoing trial outside Hathras

The victim’s family had urged the court to stay the trial before the special court, after they faced intimidation and threats in open court

hathras gang rape

The Allahabad High Court has refused to stay or transfer the ongoing criminal proceedings outside Hathras in connection with the alleged gang rape and murder case of a 19-year-old Dalit girl in September last year, before the Special Court under the Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe Act.

The Bench also made it clear that “the requisite security as also with regards to non-disruption of the trial by any person and the consequences which will follow on such disruption etc., for facilitating a free and fair trial, stand as it is, and they shall be implemented and complied by the concerned strictly.”

In March this year, SabrangIndia had reported on an affidavit filed by the victim’s brother in the High Court about how the victim’s family and lawyers were threatened inside court premises. On March 5, the witnesses who were accompanied by their counsels, Sharad Bhatnagar and Seema Kushwaha, had appeared before the Presiding Officer, Special Court (SC/ST Act), Hathras, when an advocate named Tarun Hari Sharma, stormed into the court room and charged towards the victim’s family and their lawyers, “shouting and issuing threats”. Amidst the barrage of threats, the trial was interrupted and the family’s counsel Seema could not represent them.

The High Court had further recorded that the affidavit stated that when Tarun Sharma aggressively approached them, it was evident that he was under the influence of alcohol. At the same time, a large mob, including lawyers, entered the courtroom and surrounded the applicant and the complainant’s counsel in order to threaten and intimidate them.

After perusing the horrific circumstances, the Division Bench, on March 19, directed the District Judge, Hathras to inquire as to whether such an incident occurred on March 5 and send his report to the Court in a sealed cover. The High Court had said that it shall decide whether the trial in question before the Special Judge, (SC/ST Act), Hathras is required to be stayed and is to be transferred elsewhere, after perusing the report. In pursuance to this order, the District Judge in Hathras conducted an enquiry and submitted a report in a sealed cover and so did the Inspector General, Central sector, CRPF, Lucknow.

The report of the District Judge was submitted to the High Court on April 2, 2021. He submitted a report after recording the statements of sixteen persons, including Ms. Seema Kushwaha, (Advocate representing the victim’s family) and the victim’s brother and mother, who were present at the time of the incident alleged in the affidavit. He also perused the CCTV camera footage from the court of the day of the alleged incident on March 5. The report of the District Judge, Hathras is also accompanied by the report of the Presiding Officer of the Special Court where the trial is being concluded.

The Bench finally recorded, “Having perused both the reports and the statements/reports annexed therewith, without mentioning the details contained therein considering the sensitive nature of the case, as was also requested by learned Amicus Curiae who was permitted by us to go through the reports, suffice it to say, as of now, we do not find any reason to stay the proceedings in Session Trial No 538 of 2020 (Case Crime No. 0005 of 2020) pending before the Special Court (SC/ST Act), Hathras nor for that matter to transfer the same elsewhere.”

The Bench also observed that Anurag Singh, appearing for CBI, had submitted that they desired to file an application for transfer of the trial but till date it has not been filed. Thus, the court held that the instant order would be without any prejudice to any application for transfer of trial which may be filed by the CBI, if it is otherwise maintainable.

The matter will now come up before the High Court on September 16, 2020. Two simultaneous cases are pending in the matter-one which is before the trial court in Hathras, and the second is at the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court, which took suo motu cognisance of the case in October last year, to look into the allegations of her forced cremation and the role of police officials and the District Magistrate in the investigation.

The HC order may be read here: 



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