New Delhi: The Supreme Court Tuesday described the Hathras case as “horrible” and “shocking” while hearing a petition seeking a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) or a Special Investigation Team (SIT) into the alleged gangrape and murder of a 19-year-old Dalit woman by four upper caste men.

A bench, headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde and comprising Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, sought suggestions from all parties on the scope of proceedings before the Allahabad High Court, and what it could do to expand it.

It asked to Uttar Pradesh government to file a response by Wednesday on its witness protection plan and whether the family of the victim had access to a lawyer. The matter will be taken up for hearing next week.

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Advocate Indira Jaising, who appeared on behalf of the petitioners, sought protection for the witnesses. To this, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said the witnesses were already protected. The Supreme Court then asked the SC to put on record that a witness protection plan was already in place. The SG said he would file by Wednesday.

Meanwhile, in the wake of the Hathras incident, the Uttar Pradesh police has filed 21 cases across the state, only six of which have been registered in the district. The FIRs are against attempts to “incite caste and communal tension and defame the state government” using social media platforms and public meetings. The charges include sedition, criminal conspiracy and promoting enmity. The FIRs were filed on Monday, a day after Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath alleged “conspiracies” against his government by “those who want to incite caste and communal riots”.

In other news, four men, including a Delhi-based journalist, were detained from a toll plaza in Mathura on Monday. The UP police claimed they were part of the Popular Front of India (PFI) and Campus Front of India (CFI), and were on their way to Hathras.