Another Nirbhaya loses the fight of life. Will ‘Nirbhaya’ of Hathras get Justice?

-By Samarth Jain

21st century, yet we haven’t succeeded in keeping our women safe. Today’s primary issue of assault on women has become secondary, however, the honor and lame integrity of the community has become primary.

A little rewind into history and we come across cases that shook the entire nation and different corners of the world. Aruna Shanbaug case, Mathura Rape Case, Nirbhaya, Bhanwari Devi Gang Rape Case, Shakti Mills Gang Rape Case, Unnao Rape Case, and not to forget those millions of rape cases that go unaccounted.

The recent most addition to this hall of shame is the Hathras Gang Rape Case that instead of bringing justice to the victim, turned controversial by our leaders, yet, again failing miserably. The situation was such that the ministers and a few policemen without any proof, started blaming the victim and accused her of having sexual relations with the victim.

According to the reports, on September 14, 2020, a 19-year-old Dalit (lower-class) girl went to work in the fields close to her home, in the Hathras district of western Uttar Pradesh but never returned. Her body was found in part of a field owned by the Thakur (upper-class) neighbors, by her mother. The mother informed that she found her daughter lying naked with her tongue slit and protruding from her mouth, eyes red and bulging out and blood oozing out from her mouth and neck. The victim was also bleeding down from her vagina. As, the law states, as soon as a crime is committed, an immediate FIR must be lodged, and the victim must be taken to the nearest hospital if grievous medical-legal help is needed.

The article 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedures mandates that the magistrate must ensure a statement of the survivor. In case the victim passes away, the body, after the post mortem analysis must be handed over to the family.

The law mentioned above was blatantly neglected in the above scenario, and it turned out that the most significant criminal was the system itself. It is still unclear whether the required pieces of evidence were preserved. After the victim’s death, her body was cremated, refraining her family to take the last glance of their lost daughter. The incident, as proclaimed by Justice Pankaj Mittal and Justice Rajan Roy of the Allahabad High Court was a prima facie infringement of human rights.

After the case got into the limelight, it became an issue for political clashes and vote bank politics. The CM Yogi Adityanath, stated this to be a conspiracy of the opposition to malign his reputation. The focus soon shifted from finding the culprits to finding the political foes of the government. The officials in power became desperate and sanctioned section 144 in the area to refrain everyone from meeting the victim’s family. The DM of Hathras Mr Praveen Kumar Lashkar was caught on camera trying to convince the family of the victim to withdraw their case. Supposedly, a PR agency was also hired to spread the word that this was not a case of rape and was instead a political stunt.

The case is now taken over by the CBI which is conducting thorough research and is promising to complete the investigation at the earliest.

In a country where 88 rape cases take place every day[1] and the conviction rate is as low as 27.8%, it becomes crucial for the government to bring some police reforms which entitles them to be honest, and not a free hand. For that, political interventions should stop and the policemen be allowed to do their duty with honesty.

Another loop hole which exists in our country is the forensics and the tools of investigation.

Over 12, 000 rape cases are pending due to the backlog at forensic labs, and only 3 out of 6 central forensic labs in India have the facility to test DNA samples[2]. In this case, forensics were done after 14 days which becomes quite misguiding as according to sciences there is a short duration of time for which semen stays in the body.

For Justice to prevail, the abuse which occurred on the body of the victim should be given prime importance instead of the religion, caste and the politics. We, as active citizens should stand up to the cause and for what is right and must trust our judicial system.

Everything has been said already, but as no one listens, we must always begin again.[3]

[1] Crime in India – 2019.

[2] Over 12,000 sexual assault cases pending due to backlog at ….

[3] GUARDADO v. JONES | Supreme Court | US Law | LII / Legal ….


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