[Hathras Gang Rape] Conclusive arguments on quantum of damages to victim's family on Nov 25: Allahabad High Court

  • Salil Tiwari
  • 03:45 PM, 23 Oct 2021

During the hearing of the suo moto case regarding the right to decent and dignified last rites/cremation in the Hathras Gang Rape case, the Allahabad High Court on Friday fixed November 25 to hear conclusive arguments on the question of grant of damages and benefits to the victim’s family.

On September 16 the issue of benefits made available to the victim and her family as per Schedule Castes and Schedule Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act,1989 arose before the court, in which it was argued by the petitioner’s counsel and the Amicus Curiae that the victim’s family is being deprived of their rights.

To come to a conclusion on the issue, the Division Bench of Justice Rajan Roy and Justice Jaspreet Singh has fixed November 25.

The bench, however, added that if the hearing on the issue does not conclude on the said day, the court may continue and conclude the hearing on the next day i.e. November 26.

Amicus curiae in the matter, Senior counsel Jaideep Narain Mathur, Seema Kushwaha, counsel for the victim's family, and S.V. Raju, Assistant Solicitor General of India on behalf of the state made appearances before the Court.

Earlier, on September 24, the Court had commented that there should be "no ifs and buts" while interpreting the provisions relating to relief given to victims under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.

Hearing arguments of the amicus curiae, Justice Roy had said,

The provisions of Act of 1989 should be read purposely, there should be no ifs and buts.”

Amicus curiae Mathur had apprised the court about an affidavit filed on behalf of the State under which the victim’s family has been denied a house, an agricultural land and an employment to one family member of the gang rape victim, arguing that the family already has a house and land and the girl was herself dependent upon her father.

In this context, Ms. Kushwaha had also informed the court that an amount of Rs. 25 lakhs has already been paid to the victim's family, however, she and the amicus curiae had submitted before the Court that according to the ST/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Rules 1995, relief given could be in cash or in kind or both, and should be extended within 7 days.

It had also been pointed out before the court that neither a house and employment to one family member of the deceased has been provided to the victim's family nor the pension of Rs. 5000 per month, as envisaged under the provisions.

On October 1, 2020, the High Court took suo moto cognizance of the issue of allegedly forceful cremation of the gang rape victim at 2 am by the UP Police instead of handing over of her body to the family.

Accordingly, the factum of a suo motu public interest litigation (PIL) was registered under the Court’s order on the same date and the litigation is going on since then.

Case Title: In Re: Right to decent and dignified last rites/ cremation