Investigation In The Bulandshahar Rape Case Stayed In The Light Of Statements Made By Azam Khan [Kaushal Kishor v. State of U.P., 2016 SCC OnLine SC 876, order dated 29.08.2016]

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The Apex Court sought an explanation from Cabinet Minister of U.P Azam Khan for calling the gangrape of a woman and her minor 14 years daughter a “political conspiracy”. A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and C Nagappan questioned that “He (Khan) may not be directly involved in the investigation of the case but he is definitely a public authority and represents some power. Can he be allowed to say that the rape was nothing but a political conspiracy?”  “A girl is raped… such statements are made. Why should people in power or authority say something like this?”

The petioner moved the Supreme Court seeking Khan’s prosecution for suggesting that the rape was a political conspiracy. Requesting that the trial be moved out of UP, the petition sought a court-monitored investigation, alleging that the police were helping the accused. The counsel for the petioner said that the victim was “disillusioned about the process of fair trial in UP”. The court then stayed the investigation and requested FS Nariman, for his assistance in the matter on some broad questions of law.

  • Should the state, which is the protector of citizens’ rights, allow such a comment that had the effect of creating distrust in the mind of the victim regarding a fair investigation and regarding the entire system?
  • Whether such a statement comes within the ambit of fundamental right of speech and expression or it exceeds the boundaries and is not acceptable?
  • Whether such statements defeat the constitutional compassion and sensitivity
  • Whether a person holding public office or authority or in-charge of the government can make such a comment on a heinous crime such as rape or murder, especially when he has nothing to do with the crime in question?

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