Questions related to the protection of the family and witnesses in the case involving the alleged gang rape and murder of a 19-year-old woman from Uttar Pradesh's Hathras, were discussed in the Supreme Court on October 6.
The top court issued a notice to the Uttar Pradesh government and asked about the steps taken up by the government in the case. The court also questioned if the family has access to a lawyer.
The petition, filed by social activist Satyama Dubey and others, had sought a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) or a Special Investigation Team (SIT) probe into the case that had triggered massive national outrage.
Demanding a "fair" investigation, the petition also highlighted the role of the Uttar Pradesh Police, which has come under the scanner for its alleged mishandling of the case, its suspicious 2.30 am cremation of the body and several face-offs with opposition leaders who tried to visit the victim's family.
The court asked the women's group why they had not approached the Allahabad High Court.
When their lawyer Kirti Singh said they want a transfer of the case, which is already pending in the Allahabad High Court, Chief Justice of India SA Bobde said, "The Allahabad High Court is hearing the case... we can have the views of the High Court… If the High Court commits error, then we are here". The court also assured the petitioners that it would ensure a "smooth investigation" in the case.
"We want to know from all of you on what is the present scope of the Allahabad High Court's proceedings," the apex court said. Chief Justice Bobde also sought suggestions on widening the scope of the proceedings before the High Court.
In an affidavit submitted to the SC, the UP government said that the post-midnight cremation was meant to "to avoid large-scale violence" the next morning.
"There were intelligence inputs about a major law and order problem in view of the Babri mosque verdict a day later and a high alert was declared in the district," the government said.
Pointing to the sudden cremation of the victim by the police, in absence of the family drew massive criticism against the Yogi Adityanath government and the state police. Many alleged that it was a "cover-up".