Allahabad High Court questioned UP authorities for their decision to cremate the Hathras gang rape victim at odd hours and without handing over the body to the family members or taking their consent to do so.
Court’s Observations in Hathras Gang Rape case
A Bench of Justices Pankaj Mithal and Rajan Roy observed,
“This action of the State Authorities, though in the name of law and order situation, is prima facie an infringement upon the human rights of the victim and her family. The victim was at least entitled to decent cremation in accordance with her religious customs and rituals which essentially are to be performed by her family. Cremation is one of the ‘Sanskars’ i.e., antim sanskar recognized as an important ritual which could not have been compromised taking shelter of law & order situation.”
The Court further noted,
“We do not at this stage find any good reason on behalf of the administration as to why they could not hand over the body to the family members for some time, say for even half an hour, to enable them to perform their rituals at home and thereafter to cremate it either in the night or next day.”
The High Court remarked that it needed to consider whether the hasty cremation of the victim at odd hours was in gross violation of her fundamental rights as enshrined under Articles 21 and 25 of the Constitution of India in Hathras Gang Rape case.
“Sensitivities of the people which the constitution recognizes as fundamental rights such as a right to decent burial/cremation as per traditions and customs followed by the family, have to be respected and if considerations of maintenance of law and order are pitted against such valuable rights, the situation needs to be handled deftly and responsibly on a proper appreciation of both the aspects as such valuable rights can not be trampled or trifled casually or whimsically especially when those likely to be deprived are of the downtrodden class, uneducated and poor.”
Directions to the Administration
Thus, the Additional Home Chief Secretary has now been directed to come out with a draft policy containing guidelines for district officials to be following in the future in matters involving cremation/burial of the dead in similar circumstances like Hathras Gang Rape Case.
The State administration has been directed to ensure the safety and security of the family members of the victim. The investigation being carried out by the SIT or by any other agency such as CBI is to be kept confidential. No report or post thereof is to be leaked out to the public, the Court said.
The High Court has further requested the media and the political parties to air their views in a manner which does not disturb social harmony or infringe upon rights of the victim’s family and that of the accused of Hathras Gang Rape.
It was also directed that any compensation announced by the State may be offered to the family at the earliest. In case the family refuses to accept the same, it is to be deposited with the District Magistrate concerned, who shall invest it in an interest-bearing account with a Nationalized Bank to be utilized as may be directed by the Court.
The matter of Hathras Gang Rape will be next heard on November 2.