The Supreme Court Thursday told the Uttar Pradesh government that its minister Azam Khan will have to “defend himself as an individual” for calling the gangrape of a woman and her minor daughter a “political conspiracy”.
A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and C Nagappan observed that it was not the duty of the state government to provide aid to the minister in his defence.
“How can a person in authority make such comment? If it is so, let him justify it. It is not the responsibility of the state to say whether he can or he cannot (issue such comment). He must individually fight the case. Let him defend himself,” said the court.
It questioned why Khan called an incident of rape a “political conspiracy” when he was not connected with the case. “This could have been a defence of the accused people, but how can he make such comment?” asked the bench.
Meanwhile, allowing the CBI’s request, the court also lifted its stay on the ongoing probe in the case by the agency. On August 29, the bench, while seeking explanation from Khan, had also stayed the CBI probe, which was ordered by the Allahabad High Court.
The CBI later sought a modification of this order, pointing out that stopping the probe could entitle the accused to statutory bail, apart from helping them tamper the evidence. Appearing for the CBI, Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh informed the court that the agency has been investigating the case since August 18. At this, the bench allowed the CBI’s plea and asked it to continue its investigation. It also asked the High Court to keep its hands off the matter since the case in entirety was being adjudicated in the top court.