THE SUPREME Court on Monday sought an explanation from Uttar Pradesh minister Azam Khan for calling the gangrape of a woman and her minor daughter a “political conspiracy”.
“He (Khan) may not be directly involved in the investigation of the case but he is definitely a public authority and represents some power. Can he be allowed to say that the rape was nothing but a political conspiracy?” questioned a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and
“A girl is raped… such statements are made. Why should people in power or authority say something like this?” questioned the bench, as it also stayed the ongoing CBI inquiry into the case after observing that the prime witnesses were from Uttar Pradesh, where Khan is a cabinet minister.
The court also appointed eminent jurist Fali S Nariman as amicus curiae in the case, and sought his assistance on some broad questions of law.
* Should the state, which is the protector of citizens’ rights, allow such a comment that had the effect of creating distrust in the mind of the victim regarding a fair investigation and regarding the entire system?
* Whether such a statement comes within the ambit of fundamental right of speech and expression or it exceeds the boundaries and is not acceptable?
* Whether such statements defeat the constitutional compassion and sensitivity?
* Whether a person holding public office or authority or in-charge of the government can make such a comment on a heinous crime such as rape or murder, especially when he has nothing to do with the crime in question?
The incident dates back to July 29, when a family from Noida was stopped on the highway near Bulandshahr by an armed gang. The woman and her 14-year-old daughter were reportedly dragged to the fields and gangraped.
The teenager, through her father, moved the Supreme Court seeking Khan’s prosecution for suggesting that the rape was a political conspiracy. Requesting that the trial be moved out of UP, the petition sought a court-monitored investigation, alleging that the police were helping the accused.
Arguing for the petition, advocate Kislay Pandey said the victim was “disillusioned about the process of fair trial in UP”. The bench then requested Nariman, who was present in court for a different case, for his assistance in the matter.
Justice Misra, who had prepared broad questions of law, read them out to Nariman and asked for his comments. “The perception (about the questions) is good but it would require me to sit down and examine them on the touchstone of constitutional boundaries,” replied Nariman.
The next hearing will be held on September 27.