The Supreme Court today expressed unhappiness over non-appearance of Uttar Pradesh Minister Azam Khan through his lawyer in connection with the sensational Bulandshahr gangrape case and asked CBI to serve a fresh notice on the Samajwadi Party leader.
"In our considered opinion, the respondent number 2 (Khan) should have entered appearance as there is a direct allegation against him. In view of the aforesaid, we direct CBI to serve the notice on respondent number 2," a bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra said.
It directed the apex court registry to provide copy of the case records along with the notice to CBI for serving them on the minister.
The court said that it seems whatever had been said by Khan is in "his personal capacity".
The remarks came when Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh, appearing for CBI, submitted that the notice could have been served through UP government as Khan is part of the cabinet.
The bench, meanwhile, allowed lawyer Kislay Pandey, appearing for the victim's father, to file additional documents in the case and fixed the matter for further hearing on October 25.
The brutal incident had happened 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 apex court had on August 29 taken note of the controversial remarks of Khan that the gangrape case was a "political conspiracy", while staying the CBI probe in the case. It had also asked whether the State should stop people holding high offices from making such comments on heinous crimes.
On September 8, the court lifted the stay on CBI probe in the case after modifying its earlier order and asked the agency to proceed as per law.
CBI had moved the apex court seeking modification of the order staying its ongoing probe in the case, saying it may cause "disappearance of material evidences" besides enabling six accused to seek statutory bail.
Initially, the FIR was lodged by the Uttar Pradesh Police under various provisions on July 30. CBI had re-registered the case on August 18 in pursuance to the Allahabad High Court's interim order.
The apex court had earlier appointed senior advocate F S Nariman as amicus curiae (friend of the court), while framing some legal 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 court had said it would examine whether such statements are covered under freedom of speech and expression of an individual. It had said the statements, which are not given for self protection, comply with the concept of "constitutional sensitivities".
The man, whose wife and daughter were gangraped in July 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 the 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".