SC lifts stay on CBI probe in Bulandsahar gangrape case

New Delhi : The Supreme Court on Thursday lifted the stay on CBI investigation in the sensational Bulandsahar gangrape case after modifying its earlier order and asked the agency to proceed as per law. A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and C Nagappan also stayed the proceedings before the Allahabad High Court saying this was because the apex court was now dealing with the entire controversy. It allowed the plea of CBI to be impleaded in the matter as a party to the petition filed by the husband and father of the rape survivors — a mother-daughter duo.

The bench said the court would later deal with other aspects like transfer of trial of the case outside Uttar Pradesh and the opinion of jurist and senior lawyer F S Nariman on whether statements by a public authority, not connected with the case, was justified or not.

“That the petitioner has no objection to the probe being conducted by CBI but he has other grievances like transfer of the case outside the state and whether statement by public authority not connected with the case is justified or not. The prayer for modification of the order is allowed and CBI is directed to continue with the investigation,” the bench said, adding that remaining issues raised by the petitioner would be dealt with on the next date of hearing.

Earlier this week, CBI had moved the apex court seeking modification of an order staying its ongoing probe in the sensational Bulandsahar gangrape case, saying it may cause “disappearance of material evidences” besides enabling six accused to seek statutory bail.

The apex court had on August 29 taken note of the controversial remarks of UP Minister Azam Khan that the gangrape case was a “political conspiracy”, while staying the CBI probe in the case. It had also asked whether the State should stop people holding high offices from making such comments on heinous crimes. The FIR initially was lodged by the Uttar Pradesh police under various provisions on July 30. CBI had re-registered the offence on August 18 in pursuance of the Allahabad High Court’s interim order.

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 at gun-point.

The apex court had earlier appointed Nariman as amicus curiae (friend of the court), while framing some legal questions with regard to freedom of speech and expression and probable impact of statements of those holding high offices on free and fair probe in heinous cases like this. The court had also noted the apprehensions of the victim family, represented by lawyer Kislay Pandey, that there was no possibility of a “fair investigation” in Uttar Pradesh in view of the fact that a Minister has allegedly made a public statement that it was a “political conspiracy”.

Framing the questions for its adjudication, the bench had said “when a victim files an FIR alleging rape/gangrape/murder or such other heinous offences against a person or a group of persons, whether any individual, holding a high office or who is in authority, should make a comment on the crime that it was an outcome of political conspiracy, moreover when he has nothing to do with the offence.” It had said whether the state, which is “the protector of citizens”, should allow these comments which can have an effect or “may create distrust” with regard to fair investigation in such cases.

The court, while framing another question, said it would examine whether such statements are covered under the freedom of speech and expression of an individual. It said the statements, which are not given for self protection, comply with the concept of “constitutional sensitivities”. The man, whose wife and daughter were gangraped last month 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 Allahabad High Court had ordered CBI probe into the incident besides deciding to monitor the investigation.

In the plea filed in the apex court, the victim’s father sought an order for transferring the trial of the case to Delhi “in the interest of justice”. Unhappy with the UP police, the petitioner said the probe should be conducted by “some other competent agency”.