The Jharkhand high court has pulled up the state police for its "lacklustre and shoddy investigation" into the alleged rape and murder of a 15-year-old girl earlier in the year, and said Hathras-like places not just exist in Uttar Pradesh but in this state as well.
The court also directed DGP M V Rao to constitute a special investigation team to look into the case.
According to an FIR filed on March 30, the accused had poured kerosene oil on the girl, a resident of Giridih, and set her on fire. Her father said that the family had caught hold of the accused when he was trying to escape, but his relatives came to his rescue.
Justice Ananda Sen, while hearing a writ petition filed by the father on Thursday, said the post-mortem report has suggested that the girl sustained 100 per cent burns, her body was charred, but the investigation in the case was carried out in a "casual" manner.
He also said that the shocking incident has prompted the court to say that "Hathras (like places) is not only in the state of Uttar Pradesh, but also is in the state of Jharkhand."
"Surprisingly, rather shockingly the swab of the victim was sent to the laboratory only on May 20. In the entire case diary there is no explanation about the delay caused," Justice Sen observed.
The court cannot keep its eyes shut and ignore this type of "lacklustre and shoddy" probe, he said.
"This heinous incident needs immediate investigation to bring to light the correct fact and to book the accused. The way this investigation proceeded is absolutely unsatisfactory.
"I think this is a fit case where a special investigation team be constituted. I therefore direct the Director General of Police, Jharkhand, to immediately constitute a SIT to investigate the case," Justice Sen added.
A 19-year-old Dalit woman was gang-raped in Hathras district, Uttar Pradesh, allegedly by four upper-caste men. After fighting for her life for two weeks, she died in a Delhi hospital. The woman's family alleged that her body was "forcefully" cremated at an ungodly hour by the police.
The incident sent shockwaves across India, and protests seeking justice were staged in several states.