AIDWA STATEMENT ON HATHRAS GANG RAPE AND MURDER CASE JUDGEMENT
4th March 2023
In a shocking judgment from Hathras, the Special Judge Trilok Singh Pal (SC/ST Act) has acquitted all the four accused persons involved in the horrific Hathras gangrape and murder case. This was a case in which a 19 year old Dalit girl was gangraped and brutally assaulted on 14 September 2020 by 4 upper caste Thakur men of the village while working in the fields, and later died in hospital on 29 September 2020. Only one main accused Sandeep has been convicted for culpable homicide not amounting to murder and offences under the SC/ST Act. The judgment which reeks of patriarchal and casteist bias acquits all the four upper caste men of gangrape and murder, and does not give any credence to even the dying declaration of the victim, and the brutal assault obviously suffered by her.
Since the case was reported, AIDWA and others had pointed out that the U.P. Police had acted in a biased manner and botched up the investigation from the beginning. In this case, there had been a history of harassment of the victim by the main accused Sandeep for a long time. Though the girl named the accused just after the incident, the Police did not include the charge of gangrape in the first FIR. This was captured by reporters on video. Though the girl was shifted to an Aligarh Hospital the medical examination of the girl was done 8 days after the incident, by which time, obviously, no evidence of rape was present either on the clothes of the girl which had been changed or on parts of her body which had been repeatedly washed. However, it was noted that she suffered fractures due to repeated strangulation. The doctor in the hospital refused to rely on the victim’s statement and stated that he would wait for the forensic evidence to testify whether rape had taken place, despite knowing that the forensic examination was meaningless as the samples had been sent several days after the incident. The victim’s mother who had found her had also clearly stated that blood was flowing from her vagina.
The DGP of Uttar Pradesh had also with an obvious bias pronounced that no rape had taken place on the basis of the meaningless forensic test. In Hathras, the upper caste Thakurs mounted an attack on the girl’s family claiming that no crime had been committed, and the family had to be provided security by the CRPF.
It is also relevant to remember that when the girl passed away on 29 September due to her injuries, the Police hastily cremated her and did not allow the family to go near her when the cremation was taking place. Several outraged citizens and organisations including lawyers had then approached the Supreme Court for the transfer of this case to the CBI. The Allahabad High Court also took up suo moto notice and agreed to monitor the investigation which was transferred to the CBI.
The Special Judge held that because the victim had not named all the accused in the statement she had given to a female Police Constable, five days after the incident, her statement given just before her death or after the incident or that of her mother could not be relied upon, and the victim could have been tutored to change her statement to allege gangrape by four persons. The Judge also held that the offence did not amount to murder as there was no intention to kill the girl.
The girl’s statement to the Aligarh Magistrate on 22 September amounted to a dying declaration. Even earlier on 14 September, the victim had stated on video that the accused had done ‘zabardasti’ with her. The 22 September statement, which is a dying declaration statement has been established to be conclusive evidence for rape trials in India. The Supreme Court has highlighted the importance of the dying declaration in several cases and stated that the dying declaration can form the sole basis of the conviction. The judgment in concluding that the accused Sandeep and others had no intention to murder the victim as she was conscious after the incident was also wrong. In the Nirbhaya case, in similar circumstances the Courts held that murder was proved. In any case the accused should be deemed to have known the consequences of their brutal attack on the victim.
AIDWA demands that the CBI should immediately appeal against the verdict so that the injustice meted out to the victim and her family can be undone.
P K Sreemathi
Adv Kirti Singh