Supreme Court accepts Azam Khan’s apology over Bulandshahr rape remark

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The Supreme Court today 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”.

Azam Khan

“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 apology following objections raised by the Attorney General to his earlier one.

The bench, which accepted Azam Khan’s new affidavit tendering unconditional apology, made it clear that no further arguments on behalf of Azam Khan will 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 are required to be debated and posted the matter for hearing on 8 February, next year.

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 Khan should be accepted.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, who was appearing for Azam Khan, told the bench that as the questions framed by the court are constitutionally significant he would like to assist the court.

To this Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi and Fali Nariman agreed saying it would be desirable if Kapil Sibal put forth his points in respect to the questions framed by the court earlier.

On 7 December, the top court observed that the apology tendered by the UP 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 Azam Khan in his affidavit tendering apology as per the 17 November directions of the ape court.

Mr Sibal, representing Azam Khan, said the Samajwadi Party leader would file a fresh affidavit.

At the fag end of the hearing, Kapil Sibal had said that his client intends to say remorse instead of apology.

The brutal incident had happened on the night of 29 July 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 top court had on 29 August taken note of the alleged controversial remarks of Khan that the gang rape case was a “political conspiracy”.

On 17 November, the top court had directed Khan to tender “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.

Kapil Sibal had earlier said that though Khan had not said anything attributed to him against the victims in the case, but if the father of the victim felt “insulted or offended” in any manner then Khan was willing to apologise.

The court has 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 30 July. The CBI had re-registered the case on 18 August in pursuance to the Allahabad High Court’s interim order.

The man, whose wife and daughter were gang-raped in July on a highway in Bulandshahr, had on 13 August moved the top 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 a CBI probe into the incident, besides deciding to monitor the investigation.

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