[Hathras case] Allahabad HC dismisses plea for release of victim's family from alleged illegal detention citing judicial propriety
The High Court observed that the family has already been provided security by the State on the basis of the observation made by the Supreme Court and the directions issued by its Lucknow Bench.
[Hathras case] Allahabad HC dismisses plea for release of victim's family from alleged illegal detention citing judicial propriety
Allahabad High Court

The Allahabad High Court has dismissed the Habeas corpus petition filed for the release of the Hathras rape victim's family members, who is stated to be under illegal detention by the Uttar Pradesh administration in their own home.

Allahabad High Court
[Hathras Case] Victim's family moves Allahabad HC for release from illegal confinement by UP administration

Without entering into the merits of the case, a bench of Justices Prakash Padia and Pritinker Diwaker dismissed the petition while noting that,

"....judicial propriety demands that it will not be proper for this Court to entertain the present petition on merits, especially when security has been provided to petitioners 1 to 6 and other family members of the deceased victim-girl on the observation made by the Hon'ble Apex Court and also on the basis of the directions issued by the Lucknow Bench of this Court on 01.10.2020 in a Suo Motu Petition."

The order added that if the petitioners had any grievances, they were at liberty to file an appropriate petition before the Supreme Court.

The High Court specifically asked the petitioners whether they wished to approach the Supreme Court for filing any such petition or application.

To this, the counsel responded that the Supreme Court would take up the matter only in the next week, by which time it may be too late. Therefore, the Bench was urged to decide on the plea for release.

However, the Bench declined to interfere, while also noting that the Supreme Court has already asked the State of Uttar Pradesh to clarify their stand.

"Undisputedly, the Hon'ble Apex Court is in seisin of the entire case and the matter is being taken as a Public Interest Litigation by the Hon'ble Apex Court. State of Uttar Pradesh has already been directed to file affidavit clarifying its stands."

Allahabad High Court

Pertinently, the family's plea for release was filed through the secretary of the Akhil Bharatiya Valmiki Mahapanchayat. The High Court noted that the organisation said that he was approached by the family via telephone and WhatsApp messages.

The Court took note of preliminary objections made by the State counsel who raising doubts regarding the manner of appointment of counsel and asserted that there was no illegal confinement. In this regard, the State had raised the following arguments:

  • The petition was filed without obtaining Vakalatnama of the family members. No Vakalatnama was ever executed by Surender Kumar in favour of Advocate Mehmood Pracha or any of the two Advocates through whom the plea was moved.

  • When victim's family was informed about filing of the present petition, they have categorically stated that they have not authorized any one to file such petition;

  • The 'so-called' screenshot of the WhatsApp message engaging the counsel was nothing but a forwarded message of which details were not available. The message merely stated that "in the case of deceased victim-girl, through Akhil Bharatiya Valmiki Mahapanchayat, Mr Mehmood Pracha is being appointed as Counsel." Such a message was vague and did not make it clear as to who wanted to appoint whom and further in which case such ab alleged appointment was being made;

  • The Supreme Court has already directed the State of Uttar Pradesh to provide adequate protection and security to the victim's family members.

  • Adequate protection and security has been provided to family members of the deceased victim-girl. Personal guards have also been deployed on duty to ensure their safety;

  • CCTV Cameras have been installed near the house of the deceased victim-girl so that unwarranted and unsocial elements may not enter in the premises;

  • That the petitioners were free to move. They never made any request before the Administration for going anywhere. Their security was of paramount consideration for the State and no restriction whatsoever has been put upon them;

  • If the family were permitted to go to Delhi escort free, the very purpose of giving them security pursuant to the orders of the Supreme Court as well as the Lucknow Bench of the High Court would be frustrated.

It was added that the plea was not maintainable as the case is already sub-judice before the Supreme Court.

The State counsel further apprised the High Court that there was another habeas corpus petition filed on the matter.

Such successive writ petitions reflected the undue involvement of political persons or so-called social organizations. This was nothing but an abuse of process of the Court, it was contended. Thereby, the poor and illiterate family members of the victim were being used, he added.

Taking note of these submissions and given that the matter is before the Supreme Court, the High Court proceeded to dismiss the plea.

Advocates Sayyed Kashif Abbas Rizvi and Joun Abbas appeared for the petitioners. The State was represented Additional Advocate General Manish Goyal, assisted by Advocate JK Upadhyay.

Read the Order here:

Om Prakash And 6 Others v State of UP and 3 Ors HABC(A)-509-2020.pdf

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