SC critical of Azam's view,stays CBI probe in B'shahr gangrape

SC critical of Azam's view,stays CBI probe in B'shahr gangrape
The controversial remark of UP Minister Azam Khan that the Bulanshahr gangrape case was a "political conspiracy" today drew sharp reaction from the Supreme Court, which stayed CBI probe in the sensational case and asked whether the State should stop people holding high offices from making such comments on heinous crimes.

While staying the Allahabad High Court decision ordering CBI probe, a bench of justices Dipak Misra and C Nagappan noted the apprehensions of the victims' family that there was no possibility of a "fair investigation" in Uttar Pradesh as a Minister has allegedly made a such a statement.

"In the meantime, as an interim measure, it is directed that there shall be stay of the (CBI) investigation pertaining to the FIR no. 0838 dated July 30, 2016," the court said.

The bench also sought responses from Khan, who holds several key portfolios including Urban Development, and the Akhilesh Yadav government on the plea seeking shifting of probe and trial in the case out of Uttar Pradesh.

Framing legal questions for adjudication, it said "when a victim files an FIR alleging rape, gangrape or murder or such other heinous offences against another person or a group of persons, whether any individual, holding a public office or a person in authority or in charge of governance, should be allowed to comment on the crime stating that 'it is an outcome of political controversy' moreso, when as an individual, he has nothing to do with the offences in question".

The brutal incident had occured on the night of July 29 when a group of highway robbers stopped the car of a Noida- based family and sexually assaulted the woman and her daughter after dragging them out of the vehicle at gun-point.

The bench appointed jurist F S Nariman as amicus curiae (friend of the court), as it framed some questions with regard to freedom of speech and expression and probable impact of statements of those holding high offices on free and fair probe in heinous cases like this.

The bench, while framing another question, said whether the state, which is "the protector of citizens", should allow these comments which can have an effect or "may create distrust" with regard to fair investigation in such cases.

The bench also said it would examine whether such statements are covered under freedom of speech and expression of an individual.

It said the statements, which were not given for self protection, comply with the concept of "constitutional sensitivities". The plea will now be taken up after three weeks.

The man, whose wife and daughter were gangraped last month on a highway in Bulandshahr, had on August 13 moved the apex court seeking transfer of the case to Delhi, besides lodging of an FIR against Khan as well as several policemen.

The Allahabad High Court had ordered CBI probe into the incident besides deciding to monitor the investigation.

In his plea filed in the apex court, the victim's father sought an order for transferring the trial of the case to Delhi "in the interest of justice". Unhappy with the UP police, the petitioner said the probe should be conducted by "some other competent agency".

Referring to Khan's alleged controversial remark that there was a "political conspiracy" in gangrape, the plea said an FIR be registered against him as his statement "substantially outrages" the "modesty" of the victims and their family.

The plea sought "appropriate damages" for the victims besides a direction that the state and others, including the DGP, be stopped from infringing on the fundamental right to life of the victims.

Referring to Khan's alleged controversial remark that there was a "political conspiracy" in gangrape, the plea said an FIR be registered against him as his statement "substantially outrages" the "modesty" of the victims and their family.
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