‘Hathras Incident Has Instilled Fear Among Us’: 510 Law Students Write to CJI

Over 500 law students from across the country have written a joint letter to the Chief Justice of India in the wake of the Hathras gangrape case seeking intervention of the Supreme Court in the matter. They have appealed to the court to take necessary action against guilty officials for violating the survivor’s constitutionally mandated right to die with dignity.

In the letter, drafted by Naomi Ting and Zarif Hosain of Symbiosis Law School, Noida, the students talk about the increasing number of rape cases in the country while highlighting the “inhuman” way the police officials cremated the survivor’s body without allowing her family members to take a look one last time.

“The police allegedly states that they had sought the permission of the family members to burn the victim’s body, although it is pertinent to note that the family members on multiple accounts have stated that it was done against their will. The video to substantiate the family’s claim is available all over the news and internet however there is no plausible document signifying the consent of the family members,” says the letter.

The letter further highlights the guidelines issued by the ministry of health affairs on the disposal of dead bodies amid the COVID-19 crisis. The guidelines say: “Undignified handling and disposal of dead bodies may further traumatize relatives and should be avoided at all times. Careful and ethical management of dead bodies, including disposal, should be ensured, including respect for religious and cultural sensitivities.”

The same, the letter says, should be made applicable to police personnel and hospital staff dealing with dead bodies in other cases too.

According to the letter, the situation has instilled a fear among the law students. “A lot of female law students are asking whether the police are taking up the role of completing the crime for the criminal and if it is required, whether we can report a crime without questioning the intention and the result of reporting such a crime that we have been a victim of?” adds the letter.

In addition, the decisions taken by the government officials in the aftermath of the incident has further created “a situation of panic and distrust” in the country, says the letter while pointing out the imposition of section 144 of the IPC in the area, heckling of political leaders trying to meet the family members of the survivor and not allowing the media to cover the issue.

Students, thus, have requested the Supreme Court to direct an inquiry of police officials by a special investigation team; direct all state governments to utilise the unused funds in the Nirbhaya Fund; and issue appropriate guidelines regarding the right of a family of the dead body.

Read the full letter below:

Letter Petition to Hon’ CJI by The Wire on Scribd

Featured image credit: PTI