Bulandshahr gang rape: Azam Khan offers unconditional apology

New Delhi, Nov 17 (IANS) Uttar Pradesh Minister and Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan on Thursday offered in the Supreme Court to tender an unconditional apology to the Bulandshahr gang-rape victims for his controversial remarks that the crime was a political conspiracy.

Khan told a bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Amitava Roy that he will file an affidavit to the effect that he never intended to hurt the feelings of the victims — a woman and her daughter — and if they felt hurt or insulted, he offered an unconditional apology.

Recording the statement of senior counsel Kapil Sibal, appearing for Azam Khan, the apex court directed the filing of the affidavit by December 7, when the matter will come up for hearing.

The court said it will study the unconditional apology before accepting it.

The crime occurred on July 29 night when the 34-year-old woman and her teenage daughter were gang-raped by five to six assailants in Dostpur village on National Highway 91 in Bulandshahr district after waylaying their car carrying six members of the family from Noida.

During the hearing on Thursday, the counsel for the petitioner — the father of the minor rape victim — said the tape of a press conference addressed by Khan was “doctored”.

Besides an unconditional apology, the apex court directed the Uttar Pradesh government to take steps for the minor rape victim’s admission in a central school near the family residence.

Amicus curiae Fali Nariman wanted a law to deal with such insensitive utterances by ministers or people holding public office.

He said accepting the unconditional apology by Khan should not cap the issue before the court.

The Supreme Court had on August 29 framed four questions, including whether a person in a position of authority could comment on any heinous crime and whether such comments should be allowed as they create doubts in the minds of the victim about a fair trial.

During the hearing on Thursday, Sibal told the court that the transcript of the August 1 press conference of Azam Khan showed that he at no stage he used the words “political conspiracy” attributed to him.

He said all that was cited against Khan was either the captions of stories appearing in different newspapers and the twist given to his statement. He also handed over a tape of the press conference in the court.

However, the petitioner-father’s lawyer Kislay Pandey described the tape as “doctored”.

The court directed that the school where the girl was admitted will treat her with full dignity and respect.

The Uttar Pradesh government told the court that both the woman and her daughter were given Rs 7 lakh each under its compensation policy.

Besides, Rs 3 lakh each from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund and Rs 50,000 each from the Red Cross were given to them. The state government told the court they have been given two flats also.