Facing intense criticism from the Opposition over felicitating eight Ramgarh lynching case convicts, Union minister Jayant Sinha on Wednesday expressed regret.
"If by garlanding them (Ramgarh lynching case convicts) an impression has gone out that I support such vigilantism then I express regret over it," he told reporters in New Delhi.
"I have said many times that the matter is still sub-judice. It won't be fair to talk on this. Law will take its own course. We have always worked towards punishing the guilty and sparing the innocent," he said.
The minister for state of civil aviation had stoked a controversy by felicitating the eight convicts after they came out of prison on bail and met him at his residence in Hazaribagh on July 6. He had garlanded them and offered them sweets.
Trader Alimuddin Ansari was beaten to death on June 29 last year by a mob in Ramgarh on the suspicion that he was carrying beef in his vehicle.
Ansari's widow Mariam Khatoon had lodged an FIR with Ramgarh town police station against 17 people including BJP functionary Nityanand Mahto. The investigating officer had filed a charge sheet against 12 of the 17 accused, including a juvenile and the Ramgarh fast track court had convicted 11 of them and sentenced them to life term imprisonment.
The minister after meeting the eight men at his home had advised them to have faith in the judiciary and said the courts will do justice.
Sinha had also said that he was "very happy" to see them as they belonged to his constituency and it was his duty to provide them justice.
The eight convicts had thanked Sinha for helping them get a lawyer who took their case to the high court.