[HATHRAS GANG RAPE] ALLAHABAD HIGH COURT DECLINES TO STAY THE CASE AND ORDERS THAT IT BE TRANSFERRED TO A SPECIAL COURT

By: Aparajita Patel

The ruling was based on a request by the victim’s brother, who claimed that during the trial, an unruly mob, including lawyers, barged into the trial court and intimidated witnesses and the complainant’s counsel, compelling the trial judge to halt the proceedings.

After reviewing a report filed by the District judge and security personnel in this case, a Division Bench comprised of Justices Rajan Roy and Jaspreet Singh refused to halt the proceedings before the special court.

On March 20, the Hathras gang rape and murder case’s High Court issued a flurry of orders to ensure the safety of the trial, witnesses, and lawyers.

That order was issued in a case filed suo moto in December 2020 regarding the terrible occurrence in which a 19-year-old girl was gang raped and murdered in Hathras and was reportedly cremated by the State Police without allowing her family access to the body.

The Court issued the March 20 directives after the victim’s brother filed a motion stating that an unruly throng had disrupted the trial.

The Bench had also requested a status report from the District Judge of Hathras and the Inspector General of the CRPF Central Sector regarding the authenticity of the claims, in addition to ordering the trial to be kept in secret for the time being.In response to the District Judge’s order, Hathras performed a thorough investigation and produced a sealed report.

“Having read both the reports and the statements/reports annexed thereto, without mentioning the details contained therein due to the sensitive nature of the case, as was also requested by learned Amicus Curiae who was permitted by us to read 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) 

“The District Judge’s report is dated 02.04.2021. After recording the statements of sixteen (16) people, including Ms. Seema Kushwaha, Advocate, and the victim’s brother and mother, who were present at the time of the occurrence stated in the victim’s brother’s affidavit, and seeing the CCTV footage and documents, he has produced a report. The Presiding Officer’s statement/report, as well as the CCTV footage, have been considered. The report is supplemented with testimonies from the people involved, which were recorded by Hathras, the District Judge. The report of District Judge Hathras is supplemented by the report of the Presiding Officer of the Court where the case is now being heard.” The court said.

The Court made it plain that the directions in its prior order regarding providing necessary security to witnesses and family members of the victim, as well as ensuring that the trial is not disrupted by anybody, will be followed.

The motion for a stay or transfer of trial was accordingly denied, and no stay or transfer of trial was granted.

On September 16, the main issue will be heard.

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