In a huge setback to the Samajwadi Party in the midst of Assembly polls, the Supreme Court on Monday refused to grant relief from arrest to state transport minister Gayatri Prasad Prajapati in an alleged rape and sexual harassment case filed by a 35 year old woman.
On February 20, Prajapati moved the Supreme Court against its order of registering an FIR against him and sought protection from the arrest and recall of the apex court's earlier order. The bench made it clear to the counsel for Prajapathi and the state government, "We only directed registration of FIR and investigation".
Prajapati is also accused of patronising the illegal mining mafia when he was the mining minister and a probe has been ordered by the Allahabad High Court in this matter. A bench headed by Justice A K Sikri said it was "unfortunate" that there was an attempt to give political colour to its order.
The governor said Prajapati's continuance in the Cabinet is a "serious" issue and raises the question of constitutional morality and dignity since a non-bailable warrant has been issued against him and his passport has been canceled for the fear of his fleeing the country. The FIR was filed recently following a directive of the Supreme Court. Chandrapal, who was a part of Prajapati's security team, was missing since February 27 - a day before police visited the minister's two official residences for investigation.
Yesterday, Governor Ram Naik asked Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav why the tainted minister had not been sacked. "Chandrapal (Prajapati's PSO) was arrested near Police Lines here", Additional Superintendent of Police (East) Shivram Yadav said.
He further added that Prajapati should not malign the image of the party.