Minister can’t interfere in investigation by agencies: Supreme Court

The Asian Age.  | Pramod Kumar

India, All India

Khan had tendered an unconditional apology for his comments.

Supreme Court of India

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday was told that a minister was under constitutional mandate not to interfere with the ongoing investigation in a criminal case and if he does so, he is liable under the constitutional tort and the remedy is compensation in appropriate cases.

“The failure of the state to discharge its constitutional obligation would construe a constitutional tort and make it liable for damages under public law. Similarly, the minister, a constitutional functionary, would, by the same token, be liable for damages if he commits a constitutional tort by violating the fundamental rights of the citizens,” senior counsel Harish Salve told the five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra.   

The issue is rooted in the then Uttar Pradesh minister Azam Khan describing as “political conspiracy” the alleged gang rape of a minor girl and her mother on the national highway near Buland-Shahr while on their way to their ancestral village on July 29, 2016.

Though Mr Khan had tendered an unconditional apology for his comments, the court decided to examine whether a public servant could be saddled with additional restrictions on his free speech particularly in the matters begin probed.