The Allahabad High Court asked the government of Uttar Pradesh whether it was "fair and reasonable" to allow the Hathras District Magistrate (DM) to continue in his position during the pending investigation in the case of the Hathras rape and illegal cremation in which he was in "the thick of things."
A Lucknow Bench of Justices Rajan Roy and Pankaj Mithal said, “...when he [Hathras DM Praveen Kumar Laxkar] was in the thick of things... would it not be appropriate to shift him elsewhere during pendency of these proceedings without there being any stigma attached to such an action only to ensure fairness and transparency in the matter.”
On October 12, the court said it was not satisfied with the Uttar Pradesh government's explanation of why it had taken action against the Hathras district police chief but not the DM over the alleged incident of rape and the victim's hurried cremation, although it was admittedly a" collective decision.
On November 2, government counsel S.V. Raju assured the court that he would convey it (question of transferring the DM) to the government and come back with a reply on the next date of hearing, November 25.
In the meantime, Hathras' suspended SP, Vikrant Vir, appeared before the court and presented his version and filed an affidavit. It was the DM and he (Mr. Vir) who decided that the victim's body should be cremated in the night, Mr. Vir said.
The court also requested that the Central Bureau of Investigation file a status report before the next date with respect to the ongoing investigation and also indicate approximately how much time it would probably take to complete the probe.
Meanwhile, Seema Kushwaha, the lawyer appearing for the family of the victim, argued that the family wanted to move from Uttar Pradesh to Delhi because once the court proceedings were over, it was apprehensive about its security. Ms. Kushwaha also told the court of an alleged commitment made by the state government to provide one member of the victim's family with jobs that had not yet been fulfilled.
She also stated that although the family had received part of the compensation, some pressure was exerted to return it in view of an alleged statement made by some members of the family that they did not want it.
Ms. Kushwaha referred to the DM 's letter, but could not record it.
However, the government advocate refuted her argument and stated that there was no such move at all.
The Bench also directed that a responsible officer of the Central Reserve Police Force file an affidavit indicating the nature of security provided and measures taken in this regard for the victim’s family before the next date.