Hathras Gangrape: Victim’s Cremation Without Family’s Consent Infringed Their Human Rights, Says Allahabad High Court

The Allahabad High Court has expressed displeasure over the hasty cremation of a 19-year-old Dalit girl who died after an assault and alleged gangrape in Hathras.

October 13, 2020

National

3 min

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Lucknow, October 13: The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court on Tuesday expressed displeasure over the hasty cremation of a 19-year-old Dalit girl who died after an assault and alleged gangrape in Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras last month. The victim was cremated during midnight hours by the local administration allegedly without her family’s consent. A bench of Justices Pankaj Mithal and Rajan Roy said it was a violation of the victim and her family’s human and fundamental rights. 

“India is a country which follows the religion of humanity, where each one of us are supposed to respect each other in life and in death. However, the above facts and circumstances, as of now, ex facie, reveal that the decision to cremate the victim in the night without handing over the body to the family members or their consent was taken jointly by the administration at the local level and was implemented on the orders of the District Magistrate, Hathras. 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 Allahabad High Court was quoted by Live Law as saying.

The court, which took up the matter suo motu, said the victim’s cremation in the morning wouldn’t have caused trouble in the state. “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 said. 

Prima facie, the court said, the administration had failed to show “any good reason” as to why they could not hand over the victim’s body to her family even 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.” Earlier today, the victim’s parents broke down in the court while narrating what happened to their girl.

The Hathras District Magistrate, however, said the cremation had been done in full honour. “A proper pyre was laid. In the cremation, the kerosene was not used and probably, the cans which may be appearing in some of the videos were those carrying Ganges Water (Ganga Jal),” he submitted, rejecting reports that kerosene was used for the cremation. The girl died in Delhi’s Safdarjung hospital on September 29. She had alleged she was gang-raped by four upper-caste men on September 14.

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