The Allahabad High Court once again questioned the Uttar Pradesh Government over the continuation of Praveen Kumar Laxkar as District Magistrate, Hathras.
It asked the Government whether it was fair and reasonable to allow him to continue at Hathras during the pendency of the investigation when he was in the thick of things.
On the last occasion also, the High Court had questioned whether it was proper to allow Praveen Kumar Laxkar to continue as DM Hathras as the proceedings relating to the late-night cremation of the 19-year-old Scheduled Caste alleged gang-rape victim, in which he had had a role to play, was still pending. UP Government had then said it would look into this aspect and take a decision.
However, Praveen Kumar still continues as DM Hathras.
In an order released yesterday evening for the hearing held on November 2, a two-judge bench of Justices Pankaj Mithal and Rajan Roy asked if it would not be appropriate to shift the DM elsewhere during the pendency of the proceedings before the Court without there being any stigma attached to such action only to ensure fairness and transparency in the matter.
Justice Pankaj Mithal and Justice Rajan Roy.
Additional Solicitor General S V Raju who appeared for the UP Government assured the Court that he would convey it to the State Government and apprise the Court of this issue by the next date of hearing.
The Court also directed the CBI to file a status report with regard to the ongoing investigation before the next date. It also sought from the CBI an indication of the approximate time it would take to complete the investigation.
It asked that a responsible officer of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) file an affidavit indicating the nature of security provided to the victim’s family in light of the Supreme Court’s order.
The Court also recorded the version of the then SSP of Hathras Vikrant Veer regarding his and the Hathras DM’s decision to cremate the victim’s body at night.
Earlier the High Court in a damning order against the Uttar Pradesh government had expressed its displeasure at the manner in which the dead body of the alleged Hathras gang-rape victim was cremated late at night without the consent and in the absence of the family members of the victim.
“The victim was at least entitled to a 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 the shelter of law & order situation”, the bench said.
Last month, the Supreme Court entrusted the Allahabad High Court with all aspects of the alleged Hathras gang-rapes, including its monitoring of the probe by the CBI.
Read the Order
The article was originally published in The Leaflet.