The Supreme Court today declined to accept Uttar Pradesh minister and Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan’s apology for calling the Bulandshahr gang rape a “political conspiracy” noting that it was “not unconditional” as was demanded by the bench in the last hearing.
Khan had also offered to sponsor the education of the victim till graduation which she rejected.
In the affidavit, Khan had merely said that “if” his words had hurt the victim, he was sorry for it and he also contended that his comments had been distorted by the media.
Khan, who had said incident in July was a conspiracy to malign Uttar Pradesh's SP government, then said he would use the word "remorse" in a fresh affidavit that the top court demanded.
To that offer by Khan, the Supreme Court said it would "examine whether remorse is sufficient for tendering an unconditional apology". The court scheduled the next hearing for December 15.
“It is submitted by Attorney General for India Mukul Rohatgi who was requested to assist the Court, and Fali S Nariman, learned amicus curiae that the affidavit does not meet the requirement of the order dated 17.11.2016 and it cannot be treated as an unconditional apology”, said the court.
Last month, when the top court directed Khan to apologize, it indicated that "the controversy does not end here" (just with an apology) and added that the unconditional apology "will be considered by this court as to whether it should be accepted." That's what the Supreme Court did today.
Justice Misra had in the last hearing 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.
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”.
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.
Read the order here.