New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday sought an explanation from Uttar Pradesh minister Azam Khan for his insensitive remarks on the national highway gangrape in Bulandshahr and stayed the CBI investigation into the incident. A Bench of the court pulled up the Uttar Pradesh government and Urban Development Minister and ruling Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan, who called the crime a “political conspiracy” against the Samajwadi Party government in the State.
“Why should people in power make such statements?” a Bench of Justices Dipak Misra and C. Nagappan asked. “Should the State, the protector of citizens and responsible for law and order, allow these comments as they can potentially create distrust in the minds of victims as regards the fair investigation and, in a way, the entire system,” Justice Misra observed.
The Bench directed the State government to file its response within three weeks on a petition filed by the victimised family to transfer the case from Uttar Pradesh to Delhi. Unhappy with police, the petitioner said the probe should be conducted by “some other competent agency”.
The court also stayed the Allahabad High Court’s decision ordering CBI probe and noted the apprehensions of the victims’ family that there was no possibility of a fair investigation in the state as a minister himself had made such a statement. The court said when a victim had filed an FIR alleging rape, gangrape or murder, why should a person in charge of governance be allowed to comment, when as an individual, he had nothing to do with the offences in question.
Khan, however, maintained that he had not said anything against the victims and their family members. The brutal incident occurred on the night of July 29 when a group of highway robbers stopped the car of a Noida-based family and sexually assaulted the petitioner’s wife and daughter after dragging them out of the vehicle at gun point.
The bench appointed F S Nariman as amicus curiae, as it framed some questions with regard to the impact of the statements of those holding high offices on the probe in heinous cases. The bench also said it would examine whether such statements are covered under freedom of speech of an individual. The case is slated to be heard on September 27.