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The Survivor Was At least Entitled To A Decent Cremation: Allahabad HC On Hathras Case

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The Lucknow Bench of Allahabad High Court issued an order in the Hathras gangrape case, questioning the hasty cremation of the 19-year-old Dalit girl in Hathras. The bench stated that it was dissatisfied by the reasons given by UP authorities to justify the cremation of the deceased without the family members’ consent, and without following any rituals. It termed it as an “infringement upon the human rights of the victim and her family.”

In a statement released by the bench led by Justices Pankaj Mithal and Rajan Roy during the last hearing (October 12, 2020), as quoted by Live Law, it acknowledges the fact that the cremation was carried on “jointly by the administration at the local level and was implemented on the orders of the District Magistrate, Hathras.” It further added, “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.”

Also Read: Deceased Hathras Gangrape Survivor’s Mother Unwell, Shifted To Hospital

After hearing the arguments of both the parties, the family and the UP State authorities, the bench observed that the state authorities failed to give any good reason to support the hasty cremation. It questioned the authority on the ground that why couldn’t they hand over the body of the deceased survivor to the family members at least for some time so that they could perform their rituals and cremate in the morning.

The deceased survivor’s family alleged that the family claimed that they insisted on conducting the cremation the next morning but the authorities chose to cremate the body despite that. While the local administration claimed that conducting the cremation was important to avoid the miscreants that could make the incident political.

Although the bench acknowledged that the local authorities did not stop the family members to attend the cremation, it focussed on the fact that eventually, no family member could attend.

The bench stated, “Thus, the expanded fundamental right to life to live with dignity and to exist with dignity even after death as well as right to decent burial/cremation appears to have been infringed hurting the sentiments of not only the family members but of all persons and relatives assembled on the spot.”

“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,” it further said.

The bench underlined “…right to decent burial/cremation as per traditions and customs followed by the family, have to be respected and if considerations of maintenance of law and order are pitted against such valuable rights, the situation needs to be handled deftly and responsibly on a proper appreciation of both the aspects as such valuable rights cannot be trampled or trifled casually or whimsically especially when those likely to be deprived are of the downtrodden class, uneducated and poor.”

The court has asked the state Additional Chief Secretary (Home) to come up with proper guidelines in the next hearing (November 2, 2020) on how such cases should be dealt so that the hasty cremation does not happen in future. Furthermore, it also directed the state administration to provide security and safety to the deceased survivor’s family member. It also said that the investigation being conducted in the case by the S.I.T and the CBI should be kept in full confidence.

Reportedly, the family had demanded from the court that they should be provided security and that the CBI reports should be confidential.  Read the full report here.

Picture Credit: NDTV

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