NGO moves SC seeking to intervene in Hathras case
A Kerala-based NGO has moved the Supreme Court seeking to intervene in the Hathras case alleging that hateful speech and false narratives were being spread by the media against members of the upper caste community.
The plea filed by NGO, Munnokka Samudaya Samrakshana Munnani (Forward Community Welfare Front), has sought norms for responsible discharge of responsibilities which would require all those reporting about a crime to first ascertain whether such crime was indeed the outcome of caste-based discrimination.
The NGO said it was aggrieved by the publication of “purely speculative theories” in print, electronic, digital and social media that the Hathras case was result of caste rivalry.
The petition said there was a need for genuine and responsible reporting and dissemination of facts and opinions on the facts of the case and the events surrounding the case in order to curb any spread of hateful speech or narratives which would consequently lead to friction and enmity between the members of different communities.
“It needs no emphasis that news reporting which tends to cater to speculative theories on such occasions will only lead to inflaming passions and greatly damage the already fragile social fabric of the nation and set back our pursuit of achieving the laudable constitutional goals of equality and fraternity,” read the plea.
The NGO said the random use of caste in the reporting of crimes even when the caste of the involved parties was of no relevance, only helps to vilify and malign entire sections of people, leaving them with no legal remedy and needs to be checked.
“In the instant case which the applicant organisation is seeking to highlight too, the reckless mentions are against an amorphous group which is left with no legal remedy to defend itself and has to live with the ignominy and guilt of being roped into a horrific crime it had no collective role in,” the plea added.
A 19-year-old Dalit woman was allegedly raped by four upper-caste men in Hathras on September 14. She died on September 29 at Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital during treatment.
The victim was cremated in the dead of the night near her home on September 30.
Her family alleged that they were forced by the local police to hurriedly conduct her last rites. Local police officers, however, said the cremation was carried out “as per the wishes of the family”.