This article is written by Nimisha Dublish. This article discusses various nuances of the Hathras case that took place in the year 2020. The case is a landmark and a reminder that our justice system needs many updates and reforms to tackle sensitive matters like gang rape and the murder of women, especially those who belong to marginalised groups of people. 

It has been published by Rachit Garg.

Table of Contents


It was September 2020, the month that shook the whole nation with the spine-chilling crime committed in Hathras, Uttar Pradesh The nation, which was trying to recover from various rape and murder cases like Nirbhaya’s case (2012), witnessed another traumatising and heart-shaking crime. The crime was not only committed against a young Dalit girl but also against the women of India. The girl was brutally raped and left to die in the fields of Hathras, Uttar Pradesh. The people are dependent on the police authorities as they play a crucial role in the justice delivery system. They are responsible for our protection. They are the ones through whom one can feel safe and believe that justice will be delivered to them one day. Police officers are the carriers and bearers of justice. They investigate wrongs committed in society and deliver information regarding the same to the justice authorities of the country. But here, in this case, the police yet again failed to do so. The crime in itself was not enough; police officers in Uttar Pradesh burned the body of the dead young girl while the family was locked in their house. There are many questions that arise in our minds. What if the girl was from the upper caste? Would the police have done the same with her in that case? And why did the police try to remove the evidence, i.e., the dead young Dalit girl’s body? It’s normal to have these questions raised in your mind. There were many rumours and debates all over the country regarding the case, but there were very few people who bothered to find out the real story and waited for justice to be delivered. 

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After almost 2.5 years of fighting between the young girl’s parents and the accused, the judgement was passed on 2nd March 2023. The Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe Court acquitted three out of four accused, and none of them was found guilty of gang rape. The accused were of a higher caste, and there were many questions in the air about the caste system and the injustice due to it. The investigation was then handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), and only Sandeep, who is 20 years old, was found guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder under Section 304 of the Indian Penal Code. The accused have been charged with certain offences under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act of 1989. The other three accused, Luv Kush (23 years old), Ramu (26 years old), and Ravi (35 years old), were found not guilty by the Court. 

Facts of the Hathras case

The incident – 14th September 2020

A 19-year-old Dalit girl was gang raped by upper-caste men in the village of Hathras, Uttar Pradesh. The event took place in the morning at 9.30 a.m. The victim, along with her mother, went to the field to cut the grass. The victim was then raped by the four accused men and left to die in the fields. Her mother discovered her body after hearing her scream. She was taken to the police station, where the police allegedly refused to report the case. Later, she named one of the accused, Sandeep Sisodia, and the FIR was then registered under Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code. This Section deals with the assault or criminal force of a woman with the intent to outrage her modesty. 

Later the same day, she was taken to the local primary health centre by the police. They referred her to the Aligarh Muslim University’s Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College. She was admitted at 4.30 P.M. The total travel time was supposed to be two hours, but she was admitted in the evening, i.e., more than the actual time that would have been taken to admit her. The delay was caused because the police authorities refused to file an FIR in the beginning.  

Critical condition – 15th September 2020

The victim’s condition worsened, and she regained consciousness to talk to her family. 

Statement recorded – 19th September 2020

The victim’s statement was taken, in which she mentioned the name of the accused. The police added Section 307 of the Indian Penal Code for attempt to murder. Sandeep was arrested after recording the statement of the victim. She mentioned that she was attacked because she resisted the sexual advances of the accused. 

Supplementary statements recorded – 21st September 2020

Supplementary statements were made by the victim in front of the magistrate. She names Sandeep, Ravi, Ramu, and Luvkush as the assailants. She accused them of sexual assault, and the police charged all four of them with gang rape and murder. The medical reports showed that there was some use of force, but the doctors waited for the forensics report to confirm the penetrative sexual abuse. 

First swab test – 22nd September 2020

The very first swab test was performed to ascertain the sexual assault. But the point to be noted is that this was conducted after a week. Thus, it was nearly impossible to find any evidence regarding the sperm trace. The remaining accused were also arrested, and the victim’s condition began to worsen.

Victim shifted to Delhi – 28th September 2020

The victim was shifted to the Safdarjung Hospital in Delhi. Her condition was continuously deteriorating, and the chances of her survival were decreasing. AMU doctors claimed that they had referred her to AIIMS, but she was shifted to the Safdarjung Hospital.

Victim’s death – 29th September 2020

The victim succumbed to her injuries and subsequently died on the morning of 29th September 2020. Protests by the political parties erupted in the hospital. An attempt to secretly cremate the victim’s body took place. Later, the victim’s body was taken to Boolgarhi village. 

Victim’s body cremated – 30th September 2020

As per the allegations put forth by the victim’s mother, the body was forcibly taken from them by the police and they cremated her at 2.30 A.M. The officials denied the allegations and said that it was consensual.

The state government formed a Special Investigation Team to investigate the matter. Many protests and criticisms were faced by the government and the administrative system due to the event that took place. The UP ADG, Prashant Kumar, claimed that the reports confirm that the victim was not raped. He was also criticised for passing such statements because the swab test was done more than a week after the assault took place. Post-mortem reports mentioned that she suffered severe injuries in her spine and that there were several marks on her neck, which were a result of attempted strangulations. 

Section 144 of the CrPC imposed – 1st October 2020

Section 144 of the CrPC was imposed in Boolgarhi village. The Section deals with the prohibition of the assembly of more than four people in the village. This prevented many leaders from entering the village and meeting the victim’s family.

Suo moto cognisance taken by the Allahabad High Court – 1st October 2020

The Allahabad High Court took suo moto cognisance in the case and issued summons to the administrative authorities to be present at the hearing of the case. The Court was upset by the fact that the authorities allegedly cremated the body of the victim without any consent. 

UP government files an affidavit – 6th October 2020

The UP government filed an affidavit justifying the act of the police authorities. The government claimed in front of the Supreme Court that the crime was registered immediately by the police. There was a necessity to cremate the body to avoid the chaos. The victim’s family was also present during the cremation. 

Letter by Sandeep – 8th October 2020

A letter is written by Sandeep to the police, claiming that he was friends with the victim. They used to talk over phone calls once in a while. He accused the victim’s mother and brother of torturing her. He indicated that there were chances of honour killing. The call history shows that there were 104 calls made between them.

Police and security deployed – 9th October 2020

Personnel have been deployed by the authorities for the safety of the family. CCTV cameras were also installed to monitor the area and ensure safety. 

CBI’s involvement – 11th October 2020

The CBI took over the investigation immediately after registering the FIR. The need to investigate the matter was felt due to increasing protests and demands for justice. Also, they received wide criticism for cremating the victim’s body in the middle of the night. 

Victim’s family before the court – 12th October 2020

The victim’s family appears before the Allahabad High Court’s Lucknow Bench amidst high security. The Court adjourned the matter till 2nd November 2020. The District Magistrate mentioned that the decision to cremate was taken after considering the law and order of the situation.

CBI carries on the investigation – 13th October 2020

The CBI met the family and collected evidence from the cremation spot. The local police were also questioned and asked to give all the information and evidence that was collected during the case. The local hospital where the victim was taken after the incident didn’t have the CCTV footage of that day. They said that they only kept the backup for 7 days. 

Allahabad High Court monitors the CBI probe – 27th October 2020

The Allahabad High Court was ordered to monitor the CBI probe and provide CPRF security and protection to the victim’s family and all the witnesses. The said order was given by the Supreme Court of India.  

Questions raised on cremation – 4th November 2020

The SIT report raises several questions on the cremation of the victim’s body. Further actions were to be taken by the authorities against those who were involved in the cremation, which was done without the family’s consent.

Status report from CBI – 6th November 2020

The Allahabad High Court sought a status report from the CBI and asked how much more time they would need to complete the investigation of the case. They were directed to file a status report before 25th November 2020, which was also the next hearing date.

Brain mapping and polygraph tests – 23rd November 2020

The four accused underwent Brain Electrical Oscillation Signature tests (BEOS), which are non-invasive in nature. They were taken to Gujarat for BEOS and polygraphic tests.

State Counsel appears – 25th November 2020

The state counsel appears to justify the hasty cremation of the victim. The Court heard the counsel. The counsel narrated the facts and contended that the District Magistrate did not commit any wrong. Submissions were given by the victim’s family, the state of Uttar Pradesh, and the CBI. 

Chargesheet filed by CBI – 18th December 2020

The CBI filed a chargesheet in the Court of Special Judge BD Bharti against the accused. They were charged for the provisions under the IPC and SC/ST Act. They also mentioned that there were lapses on the part of the UP police.

The charge sheet was filed against the four accused. The Sections that were invoked by the CBI were as follows-

  1. Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code for the punishment for murder.
  2. Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code for the punishment of rape.
  3. Section 376A of the Indian Penal Code for the punishment for inflicting injury upon the victim (while committing rape) and resulting in the death of the victim.
  4. Section 376D of the Indian Penal Code for the commission of gang rape.
  5. Section 3(2)(v) of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act for the protection of the victim’s rights as a Dalit girl. 

Battle ends – 2nd March 2023

After almost 2.5 years of battle, the Court passed its verdict on 2nd March 2023. The decision convicted one out of the four accused. Sandeep was convicted of offences under Section 304 of the IPC and provisions of the SC/ST Act. He was not held guilty of rape and murder. He was punished with life imprisonment along with a fine of Rs. 50,000. The police authorities were widely criticised for the delayed collection of samples, which eventually led to the botching up of the investigation. 

Brief background of the accused in Hathras case

Sandeep Sisodia (Chandu)

Sandeep Sisodia was the main and primary accused in the Hathras gang rape case. He was initially charged with many offences. These offences included rape, an attempt to murder, and offences under the SC/ST Act. His name was heavily highlighted in the victim’s statement, and his arrest was made soon after the incident.


Ravi was one of the other three accused. He also faced charges of gang rape, murder, etc. Ravi was mainly accused of assault, as per the victim’s statement.


Ramu was also one of the other three accused, who were charged with gang rape, murder, and other offences. He was also implicated for assault, as per the victim’s statement.


He was the fourth accused named by the victim and was charged with assault, gang rape, and murder. 

All four accused belonged to the same village but were of different caste groups. 

UP government and its administration in the Hathras case

There were several concerns raised by the public about the justice system in India. After the tragedy of the Hathras case took place, the UP’s administration came under intense scrutiny for suppressing and destroying the facts and information. They also undermined the victim’s family and challenged the relief granted by the court orders to provide help and compensation to the victim’s family. They tried to justify the event of cremation as a strategy suggested by intelligence to avoid mass violence. Some of the actions taken by the administration and government are as follows-


The police officers cremated the bodies of the dead in a hasty manner, which in turn raised many questions about them. The victim’s body was cremated without even the consent of the victim’s family. They were not able to justify properly why they did so, and there were no reasonable justifications given by them to prove the cause of action taken by them. The family was requesting the administration allow them to cremate their daughter and complete her last rites. But the administration didn’t allow them and cremated her on their own in the middle of the night at around 2:30 A.M. This act of the administration was seen as an attempt to dispose of the evidence and prevent the protests that might occur due to the caste system and the girl being from a Dalit family. The acts of the administration were widely criticised and later on, the government took some appropriate actions, setting up a team to investigate the matter properly, but some things cannot be undone. 

Media restrictions 

The government of Uttar Pradesh imposed media restrictions, and the victim’s family was not allowed to meet anyone. The step taken by the government was to maintain the secrecy of the case. However, it was said that the security given to the family was to prevent them from any harm; it was to limit the flow of information regarding the case to the general public via media houses. This act of government gave rise to concerns relating to transparency and accountability in the investigation. 

Restricting politicians

Many political leaders were restricted from meeting the family. The act was done to prevent the manipulation of the family against the system, but critics say that the act was done to prevent the victim’s family from getting any support from people. Also, the act was done to prevent scrutiny of the case and to find the facts from the family itself.

Challenging court orders

Court orders in favour of the family were challenged by the administration and government. When the Allahabad High Court passed an order for a special investigation by the CBI, it was challenged by the government. However, later on, this appeal was withdrawn by them, seeing the condition of the case.


Initially, the government denied compensation to the victim’s family. This act of the government was also widely criticised, citing the insensitivity of the government towards the rape case. Such reluctance on the part of the government increased the distress of the victim’s family. Compensation is something that is given to the victims of crimes, especially sexual violence cases. 

Intimidation and lack of empathy

The administration was criticised for intimidating the family to change their statements, and they were under pressure as they were not allowed to speak freely. Especially in the initial stages of the investigation, the police officers were insensitive towards the case and failed to understand the trauma that the family was going through. 

Analysis of Court’s judgement in the Hathras case

Here’s the breakdown of the judgement given by the Allahabad High Court. 


Sandeep Sisodia (Chandu) was found guilty by the Court. He was found guilty under Section 304 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 3(2)(v) of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. This deals with culpable homicide not amounting to murder. The Court said that Sandeep was involved in the incident, and there’s no question about that, but the act done by him was not a premeditated murder. The victim died as a result of getting dragged by her dupatta. This made her unconscious, and later she died during the treatment. 

They found Sandeep guilty by relying on evidence such as the post-mortem medical reports and the mother’s testimony in Court. The key factors were the ligature marks and the testimony given by the victim and her mother. However, the Court ruled that though the death of the victim was a result of her getting dragged, there was no clear intent to murder her.


Ravi, Ramu, and Lavkush were acquitted in this case. Three out of the four accused were released by the court. The dying declaration and evidence were not able to conclusively establish their involvement in the case. All the charges, including those of rape and murder, were withdrawn. There was no sufficient evidence found by the court to prove them guilty of murder and gang rape. There were several uncertainties and ambiguities in the victim’s statement, due to which a clear conviction was not proved against these three. There was a remote possibility that the victim might be tutored by the political influence of the leaders who met her. It was also noted that the principle of ‘Falsus in Uno Falsus in Omnibus’ is not applicable in India. This maxim means that what is false in one thing is false in everything. This means that just because there were inconsistencies in the victim’s statement doesn’t mean that her whole statement is not true. 

Factual examination

The court went into the depths of the case and conducted a detailed examination of the facts involved. The fact that the girl is from a Dalit family was highlighted as one of the circumstances that led to the heartbreaking incident on 14th September 2020. It was observed by the court that the family faced problems while registering the FIR at the initial stages. The police were also insensitive to the case, which led to widespread criticism of India’s administrative system. There were several criticisms received by the police because of their handling of the case. 

Charges and proofs 

Charges were framed against the accused under 

  1. Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code for the punishment for murder.
  2. Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code for the punishment of rape.
  3. Section 376A of the Indian Penal Code for the punishment for inflicting injury upon the victim (while committing rape) and resulting in the death of the victim.
  4. Section 376D of the Indian Penal Code for the commission of gang rape.
  5. Section 3(2)(v) of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act for the protection of the victim’s rights as a Dalit girl.

The statement made by the victim while she was counting her last breath in the hospital was considered a dying declaration under Section 32(1) of the Indian Evidence Act. This piece of evidence served as a crucial part of the case. The conviction of Sandeep Sisodia (Chandu) heavily relied on the dying declaration and the statements given by the victim’s mother.

Post-mortem report corroborated the injuries suffered by the victim. It proved that the ligature marks on her neck were due to the dupatta and her being dragged by Sandeep Sisodia by that dupatta. 

Principle of Falsus in Uno, Falsus in Omnibus

It was noted by the court that the principle of ‘Falsus in Uno, Falsus in Omnibus’ is not applicable in India. This principle means false in one thing, false in everything. There are chances that the victim’s statements might be an unnecessary exaggeration of facts and events. The question raised in the statement might have some element of falsehood in the testimony. The Court said that it is the duty of the court to identify the credible part of the evidence, and analyse it with the utmost care, and separate it from unreliable portions. However, it cannot be said that the statement by the victim is false in its entirety. 


The Court observed that the evidence did not establish a clear intent to murder the victim. Since the victim died after a battle eight days after the incident took place, no clear motive for murder can be established in this case. 

Mishandling by police

Even after getting circumstantial evidence, the local police didn’t frame charges for rape at the initial stage. In the initial FIR, no charges of rape or gang rape were mentioned. It contained Section 354 of the IPC, which deals with a milder provision. The rape charges were added after a week. After the CBI took over the investigation, it registered an FIR invoking the IPC sections and the SC/ST Act. However, there were several pieces of evidence that were lost in the initial phase of the investigation. They also declared that, as per the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) report, the girl was not raped because no semen was found. The medical experts criticised the idea that the samples should be collected within 72-90 hours of the commission of the actual crime/offence. It is also preferred that the victim not have ideally urinated, defecated, or bathed. The court noticed that in cases of rape and murder, the investigation heavily depends on the physical evidence. The incompetence of the police authorities can be seen in this case due to the mishandling of evidence and delayed collection.

CBI arguments

The CBI filed a charge sheet in a special court in Hathras and invoked the provisions of gang rape and murder along with the SC/ST Act. They contended that if the police had properly conducted the investigation, the victim would have been able to speak about it in the initial stage itself. They also stated that the victim and her family were not given attention and respect by the police authorities because of their Dalit identity. The verdict could have been different if the case had been properly investigated by them in the initial stage itself.     

Reforms and afterthoughts for the Hathras case

After the Nirbhaya case took place in 2012, the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 was introduced in India. It is also known as the Nirbhaya Act. It came into being to provide strict penalties to the perpetrators of sexual offences. It also includes the death penalty in certain cases. Despite these changes and provisions, there still exists a lack in the procedural part of the law. The perpetrators succeed in finding loopholes in the procedural aspect of the case and manage to get away with minimal or no penalty at all. 

Looking at the historical backdrops of caste-based discrimination and gender-based sexual violence, one must understand the nuances and seriousness that these sensitive matters carry with them. Going back several thousands of years, one can appreciate the fact that caste-based discrimination is rooted in the nerves of India. It is a system where a person is judged based on his/her societal hierarchy and the category in which he or she stands. The hierarchy indicates the ‘Brahmins’ to be on top and the ‘Dalits’ to be at the bottom of the societal hierarchy. Historically, Dalits were subjected to caste-based discrimination, social exclusion, economic marginalisation, etc. Hathras vase showed the vulnerabilities faced by the girl for belonging to this community. They are more vulnerable to violence, exploitation, and abuse. 

Gender-based violence has been persistent in India. This includes rape, domestic violence, acid attacks, and other forms of abuse. The Hathras case triggered memories of past heartbreaking cases of sexual violence like that of Nirbhaya. This case led to nationwide protests and demands for justice, along with changes in the legal framework. Despite all these protests and demands for reforms, the cases kept on happening one after the other.   


The Hathras gang rape raises many deep questions and concerns about the state of the justice system in India. Special concerns are raised for the marginalised communities of India. There were several complexities in the case, and it was quite difficult to prove guilt due to the nature of the evidence and its delayed collection. The judgement created significant scepticism and disappointment. The acquittal of the three accused highlights the deficiencies within the justice system. Despite having the evidence and dying declaration, the three accused were acquitted with a clear chit. 

The verdict points towards the shortcomings of the current justice system and requires major and effective reforms for the police and administrative systems to promote unbiased investigations. The case points to the fact that the battle for justice, equality, and caste discrimination is far from over. There’s still a dire need for change in society to lead a safe and unbiased life. However, the Hathras case is a stark reminder to address the gender-based violence and caste-based discrimination in India. Along with the legal reforms, there is a need for society to change its mindset. The issues are somewhere or other deeply connected to each other and need comprehensive action to be taken along with sustained efforts to fight the setbacks effectively and ensure a more just and equitable society.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What was the decision in the Hathras case?

Sandeep Sisodia, one of the four accused, was convicted of culpable homicide not amounting to murder under Section 304 of the Indian Penal Court and Section 3(2)(v) of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

Which state in India has the highest rape statistics?

As per the report, Rajasthan has the highest number of rape cases across India in 2021. It is followed by Madhya Pradesh. Overall, 31 thousand cases of rape came out that year. 


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