The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Uttar Pradesh government regarding the protection of the family and witnesses in the alleged gang rape of a 20-year-old Dalit girl from Hathras.

The court also asked whether the family has access to a lawyer or not.

The apex court while hiring the petition called the Hathras case as ‘extraordinary’ and ‘shocking’. The petition filed by social activist Satyama Dubey and others that has sought a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) or a Special Investigation Team (SIT) in the Hathras case.

A bench, headed by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde and comprising Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian has asked the UP government to file its response on witness protection plan and access to lawyer by victim’s family by Wednesday.

The petitioners have called for a ‘fair’ investigation and have pointed out UP Police role in handling of the case and ‘dead-of-night’ cremation that has resulted in the massive protests nationwide.

Lawyer Kriti Singh for the petitioners said that they wanted the case to be transferred, which is currently pending in Allahabad High Court, to which Chief Justice of India SA Bobde said, “The Allahabad High Court is hearing the case…  we can have the views of the High Court… If the High Court commits error, then we are here”.

The apex court has assured them it would ensure a “smooth investigation” in the case.

The bench has also sought suggestions from all parties on the scope of proceedings before the Allahabad High Court, and what it could do to expand it. The court said, “We want to know from all of you on what is the present scope of the Allahabad High Court’s proceedings,”

The Uttar Pradesh government in its affidavit has said that the cremation post midnight was meant to “to avoid large-scale violence” the next morning.

The Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath government has been attacked by opposition and protest from all over due to the hurried cremation and alleged ‘cover up’ charges made by opposition.