The Supreme Court on Thursday accepted an “unconditional apology” tendered by controversial Uttar Pradesh Minister Azam Khan in connection with his alleged remark in the sensational Bulandshahr gangrape case, saying he has expressed “sincere and heartful remorse.”
“Respondent No 2 (Azam Khan) has given an unconditional apology and has expressed his sincere and heartful remorse,” the Bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra and Amitava Roy said after the senior Samajwadi Party leader filed a fresh affidavit tendering an apology following objections raised by the Attorney General to his earlier one.
The Bench, which accepted Mr. Khan’s new affidavit tendering unconditional apology, made it clear that no further arguments on behalf of the Minister would be entertained further in the matter.
However, the Bench said that the questions framed by it earlier regarding the Freedom of Speech and Expression and probable impact of statements of those holding high offices on free and fair probe in heinous cases, including rape and molestation, were required to be debated and posted the matter for hearing on February 8, 2017.
The Bench also noted in its order that eminent jurist Fali S. Nariman, who has been appointed as an amicus curie for assisting the court in the matter, has fairly said that the affidavit furnished by Mr. Khan should be accepted.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, who was appearing for Mr. Khan, told the Bench that as the questions framed by the court were constitutionally significant, he would like to assist the court.
To this, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi and Nariman agreed saying it would be desirable if Mr. Sibal put forth his points in respect to the questions framed by the court earlier.
On December 7, the apex court observed that the apology tendered by the U.P. Minister earlier for his alleged remarks on the Bulandshahr gang rape case does not appear to be “unconditional.”
The observation came after the Attorney General had objected to certain words like “if” and “then” used by Mr. Khan in his affidavit tendering apology as per the November 17 directions of the apex court.
Mr. Sibal, representing Mr. Khan, said the Samajwadi Party leader would file a fresh affidavit.
At the fag-end of the hearing, Mr. Sibal had said that his client intended to say remorse instead of apology.
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 a 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 alleged controversial remarks of Mr. Khan that the gang rape case was a “political conspiracy.”
On November 17, the apex court had directed Mr. Khan to tender an “unconditional apology” for his alleged remarks in the matter while seeking assistance of the Attorney General in dealing with the issue of statements made by persons holding public office in such cases.
Mr. Sibal had earlier said that though Mr. Khan had not said anything attributed to him against the victims in the case, he was willing to apologise if the husband/father of the victims felt “insulted or offended” in any manner.
The court said it would deliberate upon the questions framed by it earlier regarding the freedom of speech and expression and probable impact of statements of those holding high offices on free and fair probe in heinous cases, including rape and molestation.
Initially, the FIR was lodged by the Uttar Pradesh Police under various provisions on July 30. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had re-registered the case on August 18 in pursuance to the Allahabad High Court’s interim order.
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 Mr. Khan as well as several policemen.
The Allahabad High Court had ordered a CBI probe into the incident, besides deciding to monitor the investigation.