Apex court to examine if comments on rape by ministers can be curbed

Apex court to examine if comments on rape by ministers can be curbed

The Supreme Court on Monday decided to examine if the Constitution permitted a person holding public office to make comments — in cases of rapes and murders — that has the potential to create distrust on fair investigation.

A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and C Nagappan framed the legal question while rapping Uttar Pradesh Minister Azam Khan for terming the recent gang rape of a woman and her teenaged daughter in Bulandshahr district as a “political conspiracy”.

“Why should people in power make such statements,” the bench asked, while hearing a plea made by the father of the girl for compensation and transfer of the investigation.

“When a victim files an FIR charging rape, gang rape or murder or such other heinous offences against another person or 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 was an outcome of a political controversy’, more so, when as an individual, he has nothing to do with the offences in question,” the bench posed the query.

The bench stayed the CBI probe, already ordered by the Allahabad High Court into the incident, and appointed senior advocate F S Nariman to assist the court in determining the issue if such statements did come within the ambit and sweep of freedom of speech and expression or exceeded the boundary.

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