New Delhi: In a huge embarrassment for the ruling Samajwadi Party, the Supreme Court on Thursday asked Uttar Pradesh minister Azam Khan to tender an unconditional apology for calling the Bulandshahr gang-rape case a ''political conspiracy.''.
A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Amitava Roy referred to the old adage that "words once spoken cannot be recalled" and asked senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Khan, that "if he (Khan) files an affidavit tendering unconditional apology, the matter ends".
During the hearing, Sibal told the bench that though Khan has 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 the Samajwadi Party leader is willing to apologise.
"Let the affidavit tendering unconditional apology be filed within two weeks," the bench said, adding that 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.
Terming dignity of women as "uncompromisable", the bench asked the state government to ensure that the minor survivor of the gang rape gets admission in a nearby central school of the choice of her father.
The cost of admission and education shall be borne by the state government and the Centre will render all assistance for it, the court said, noting the school will ensure the dignity of the rape survivor.
Khan had stoked a controversy in August 2016 when he said that the Bulandshahar highway rape case could be a ‘political conspiracy to malign the image of the Akhilesh Yadav-led SP government in Uttar Pradesh’.
The man, whose wife and daughter were gang-raped on a highway in Bulandshahr, had on August 13 moved the apex court seeking transfer of the case to Delhi, besides lodging of an FIR against Khan as well as several policemen.
The brutal incident had happened on the night of July 29 when a group of highway robbers stopped the car of a Noida-based family and sexually assaulted the woman and her daughter after dragging them out of the vehicle which had four other occupants.