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Supreme Court: In the plea filed by a man whose wife and daughter were allegedly gangraped in July last year on a highway near Bulandshahar, seeking transfer of the case to Delhi and lodging of an FIR against former Uttar Pradesh Minister Azam Khan for his controversial statement that the gangrape case was a “political conspiracy”, the bench of Dipak Misra, CJ and AM Khanwilkar and Dr. DY Chandrachud, JJ referred the matter to a five-judge constitution bench to decide the question as to whether a public functionary or a minister can claim freedom of speech while airing views in a sensitive matter which is under investigation.

The Court also expressed concern over the misuse of social media platforms and said that people disseminated wrong information even about the court proceedings. Senior Advocate Fali S. Nariman, who is assisting the bench as an amicus curiae, submitted before the Court that a lot of misinformation and abuses are there on social media platforms and he has stopped looking at them. To this, Senior Advocate Harish Salve added that he had deleted his Twitter account.

The Bulandshahar rape case happened on the night of July 29 last year 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. Azam Khan had, in a public address, termed the entire incident as a “political conspiracy only and nothing else”. Harish Salve submitted before the Court that ministers cannot have personal views on official business matters as whatever the person says, must reflect government policy.

Last year, on 29.08.2016, the Bench of Dipak Misra and C. Nagappan, JJ had asked Fali S. Nariman to assist the Court in determining, inter alia, whether the fundamental right of speech and expression would be governed under reasonable restriction of decency or morality or whether other preferred fundamental rights would also have an impact on it.

Source: PTI

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In furtherance of the orders issued by the court in the Bulandshahar rape case on 28.09.2016 in the light of the statements made by Azam Khan in which he termed the entire incident as a “political conspiracy only and nothing else”, Fali S. Nariman, the  Amicus Curiae submitted that this Court is constitutionally obliged to evolve new tools to enhance the cause of justice.

The bench of Dipak Misra and C. Nagappan, JJ had asked Mr. Nariman to assist the Court on what should be the action when a person comments on a crime when he has nothing to do with it. He also gave submissions on

  • public confidence in the fairness of trial,
  • Circumstances interfering with the police investigation of the case and principle of law stated thereon,
  • necessity to abide by the principle of non-interference with the investigation or the investigating agency, and
  • in the absence of any opinion of this Court, what is to be done in a case if the court is satisfied that there are comments on the investigation or on the victim by a public personality or a public servant

He also submitted that that the electronic and print media namely, Zee News, NDTV, The Indian Express, The Hindustan Times, The Times of India and News18, that have published the press conference report of Azam Khan should be added as party respondents in the instant case and their stand should be taken into consideration and eventually necessary directions can be issued.

The Court had earlier taken note of the prayer of the father of the victim girl that the case be transferred to another State, upon been disillusioned about the process of fair investigation in the State of Uttar Pradesh because of various developments, had stayed the investigations.

The Court will consider the aforementioned submissions on the next date of hearing i.e. 17.11.2016. [Kaushal Kishor v. State of Uttar Pradesh, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 1249 , order dated 08.11.2016]