New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Uttar Pradesh government to file a response by Wednesday on its witness protection plan and whether the family of the 19-year-old Dalit woman, who was gang-raped and murdered by four upper-caste Thakur men in Hathras district, has access to a lawyer, Live Law reported.
The court described the incident as “extraordinary” and “shocking”.
A three-judge bench led by Chief Justice of India Sharad A Bobde was hearing a petition seeking a Central Bureau of Investigation or a Special Investigation Team inquiry monitored by sitting or retired judges in the matter. The state has requested the Supreme Court to direct CBI investigation not only into the woman’s gangrape but also into the case relating to alleged criminal conspiracy to spread caste conflict by sections of media and political parties.
Advocate Indira Jaising, said the protection of the woman’s family was paramount. “Fair investigation warrants protection for the family,” she said.
Jaising added that the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 must be invoked and the matter should be transferred to Delhi, as was done in the Unnao rape case. “Your lordship must protect by way of witness protection the family of the victim,” she said.
The Supreme Court also sought suggestions from all parties on the scope of proceedings before the Allahabad High Court and what it could do to expand it.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the state government, said he was not opposed to the petition but was concerned about the sensationalising of the death of a young girl. “All kinds of people, political parties giving one narrative or another,” he told the court. “Your lordships must supervise the investigation and the purpose of it must not be lost.”
The Supreme Court adjourned the matter to next week.