On March 2nd, 2023, a special court in Uttar Pradesh announced its verdict in the Hathras case, in which, according to CBI investigation, a 19-year-old Scheduled caste woman was gang-raped and murdered by four upper-caste men in September 2020. While the court sentenced one of the accused to life imprisonment, the other three were acquitted of all charges due to a lack of evidence.
According to the special court, only Sandeep out of the four accused named Sandeep, Ravi, Luv Kush, and Ramu has been found guilty of culpable homicide not murder or rape and sentenced to life imprisonment.
The verdict has sparked outrage across the country, with many questioning the fairness of the trial and the criminal justice system in India.
The verdict has sparked outrage and protests across the country, with many questioning the fairness of the trial and the criminal justice system in India. The victim’s family has expressed their disappointment and shock at the verdict, with the victim’s sister-in-law stating that the verdict is
“Thakurwadi, Jaatiwadi (Casteist) and Dharmwadi” and “Court’s decision is in favor of the Thakurs and not us,” adding, “Yogi has made UP a Thakur-dominant state. We are not Hindus.” She said, “This verdict has murdered justice.”said Victim’s sister in law
What happened in Hathras in 2020? Here’s a brief timeline:
September 14, 2020: The 19-year-old SC girl victim was reportedly gang-raped by four upper-caste men in a field in the Hathras district of Uttar Pradesh. She was found with severe injuries and was initially treated at a local hospital before being transferred to a hospital in Delhi, where she succumbed to her injuries two weeks later on September 29.
September 30, 2020: The victim’s body was hastily cremated by the police in the middle of the night, without the consent or presence of her family members. The police claimed that they had cremated the body as per the wishes of the family, but the family disputed this claim and accused the police of trying to destroy evidence.
October 2, 2020: The victim’s family alleged that they were threatened and intimidated by the Hathras District Magistrate Praveen Kumar Laxkar, to change their statements and suppress evidence.
October 2, 2020: The Uttar Pradesh police filed a charge sheet against the four accused and dismissed the charges of rape, citing forensic evidence.
October 10, 2020: Amidst the outrage against the UP police investigation, the Union Government approved the CBI investigation in the case.
October 11, 2020: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) took over the investigation of the case from the Uttar Pradesh police.
November 25, 2020: The CBI submitted its chargesheet against the four accused confirming Gang-rape and murder.
March 2, 2023: The special court sentenced one of the accused to life imprisonment and acquitted the other three due to a lack of evidence.
The family’s lawyer, Seema Kushwaha, also expressed her disappointment with the verdict, stating that the prosecution had presented a strong case against all four accused and that the acquittal of three of them was a grave injustice. She said that the verdict would be challenged in the High court.
While the sentencing of one of the accused is a mockery of justice for the victim and her family, the acquittal of the other three accused raises serious questions about the fairness and impartiality of the criminal justice system. The case has highlighted the urgent need for greater accountability and transparency in the system and for a larger conversation on the root causes of caste-based violence and discrimination in India.