State Counsel appears to justify the hasty cremation of Hathras Victim: HC

The high court was told by the State that transferring the DM was a mere political issue and that he did nothing wrong in ordering the cremation of the victim


The Division Bench of Justices Rajan Roy and Pankaj Mithal of Allahabad High Court heard the submissions made by the Hathras victim’s family, the State of Uttar Pradesh and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in Suo-Moto Inre: Right to Decent & Dignified Last Rites/Cremation (PIL Civ No. 16150 of 2020) on November 25.

Senior Counsel S.V. Raju appeared for the State, Miss Seema Kushwaha appeared for the petitioner family and Anurag Singh made submissions on behalf of the CBI. The matter will now be taken up on December 16, 2020 at 3:15 pm.

Transfer of District Magistrate

In the previous hearing in early November, the court had expressed its state of conundrum with respect to the transfer of the District Magistrate. It questioned the State counsel S.V Raju whether “it was fair and reasonable to allow the District Magistrate to continue at Hathras during pendency of the investigation as also these proceedings before us regarding illegal cremation etc.”

For the purposes of fairness and transparency in the matter, the court also asked the counsel whether it would not be appropriate to “shift him elsewhere during pendency of these proceedings without there being any stigma attached to such an action.” Senior counsel S. V. Raju had informed the court that he would convey this to the State Government and get back to the learned Bench on this issue by the next date on November 25.

During the November 25 hearing, the senior counsel submitted that “after pondering over the issue the Government has decided not to transfer the District Magistrate.” He gave four reasons for it:

1.      Firstly, a political game is allegedly being played and the transfer of District Magistrate has been made a political issue allegedly by political parties with oblique motives so as to exert political pressure.

2.      Secondly, there is no question of the District Magistrate tampering with the evidence relevant to the investigation.

3.      Thirdly, security of the family is now in the hands of the CRPF with which the State Government and its authorities have no concern.

4.      Lastly, the investigation itself is being conducted by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the State Government does not have any role to play.

The court also noted that senior counsel Raju “attempted to justify the cremation of the victim in the night by narrating the facts and to contend that the District Magistrate did not commit any wrong in this regard.”

CBI’s report

Advocate Anurag Singh submitted a report on the status of the investigation by the CBI into the alleged gangrape and murder of a 19-year-old Dalit girl to the court. He also apprised the court that CBI is expected to finish its investigation by December 10, 2020.

The CBI has also prepared an affidavit on the same and the court directed it to be filed in the Registry after serving its copies upon all the concerned counsels.

Audio-video evidence

The court also ordered the office to index the audio-video material provided by different Media Houses in the proceedings. “The index will mention the material annexed with report of the amicus curiae Abhinav Bhattacharya and those annexed with the affidavits filed by the State”, said the Bench.

The court also directed that from now on, any audio video material available with Media Houses and Newspaper Houses can be filed in the proceedings through the amicus curiae Abhinav Bhattacharya who is assisting the learned Senior Counsel JN Mathur in this matter.

Compensation and employment to family

The counsel for the petitioners, Advocate Kushwaha submitted that a job which was promised by the Government to one of the members of the victim’s family has not been provided yet. The State has asked for more time and submitted before the court that they “shall ascertain the facts in this regard and assist the Court accordingly on the next date.”

In the previous hearing of the matter on November 2, the petitioners had submitted the same grievance of not having secured employment from the State of Uttar Pradesh. But the State remains oblivious to the concerns of the aggrieved family.

Advocate Kushwaha had also placed a letter from the District Magistrate dated October 23, 2020 before the Bench. The letter alleges that the District Magistrate has not provided compensation to any member of the victim’s family alleging that the family itself refused to accept it.

Advocate Kushwaha argued that “the family never declined to accept the compensation, but it is only in an emotional moment that one of the family members who has been referred in the earlier order as ‘BW’ stated that once we have lost the girl no amount of money can compensate her loss which did not imply refusal to accept the compensation.”

She alleged that despite the family’s acceptance to receive compensation, the District Magistrate has not sanctioned the money and made such recitals in the letter dated October 23.

Slotting the next hearing for December 16, the court gave time to all parties to file responses to any pleadings if necessary.  

The order may be read here: 


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