Justice Dipak Misra-led bench seeks assistance of legendary Fali S Nariman and AG Rohatgi in laying down a law to make ministers answerable for their public statements if it were hurting public sentiments.
Uttar Pradesh Minister and Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan today submitted before the Supreme Court that he is ready to tender an unconditional apology for terming the sensational Bulandshahr gang rape incident a “political conspiracy” and urged the bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra not to proceed with the case any further.
The minor victim and her mother had moved the Supreme Court in August seeking action and FIR against the minister.
After Kapil Sibal, senior advocate who appeared for Khan made the offer of apology, the bench directed him to file it in the form of an affidavit within two weeks
Justice Misra slammed Khan by asking how could an individual holding a public office or a person in authority or in-charge of governance, be allowed to comment on the crime and state that “it is an outcome of political controversy”, more so, when he has nothing to do with the offences in question.
During the hearing Khan’s lawyer said there were “worse” statements made by ministers in other government which were largely going un-noticed and also claimed that part of what Khan said had been distorted.
Legendary lawyer Fali S Nariman appointed as amicus curiae in the case urged the court to lay down a law on conduct and duty of ministers, who get away making any kind of public statements.
Significantly the court said “we cannot send the respondent (Khan) to jail for but can definitely always impose fine on him as a public law remedy”.
Justice Misra also sought the assistance of Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi in laying down a law to make ministers answerable for their public statements if it were hurting public sentiments.
On October 19 the SC had sternly told the UP government that Khan will have to “defend himself as an individual” for calling the gangrape of a woman and her minor daughter a “political conspiracy” and said 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,” the court had said.
The court has already asked Nariman as amicus curiae to assist the court on four significant questions to be decided.
(a) When a victim files an F.I.R. alleging 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 is an outcome of political controversy”, more so, when as an individual, he has nothing to do with the offences in question?
(b) Should the “State”, the protector of citizens and responsible for law and order situation, allow these comments as they have the effect potentiality to create a distrust in the mind of the victim as regards the fair investigation and, in a way, the entire system?
(c) Whether the statements do come within the ambit and sweep of freedom of speech and expression or exceed the boundary that is not permissible?
(d) Whether such comments (which are not meant for self protection) defeat the concept of constitutional compassion and also conception of constitutional sensitivity?
Read the order here.
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