Haryana minister Shiv Charan Sharma was at the centre of a controversy after calling suicide victim Geetika Sharma a "servant" of his former ministerial colleague Gopal Kanda, who is the prime accused in the case.
Shiv Charan Sharma, minister for labour and employment who also said that the case was not "such a big" one, came under fire on Tuesday from the BJP and women's bodies who described the remark as insensitive, insulting and shameful.
Geetika's brother Ankit demanded an apology from the minister.
"This isn't such a big case. He (Kanda) appointed her (Geetika) as a servant by mistake," said Sharma, a Congress leader referring to the Geetika suicide case while participating in jailed Kanda's birthday celebrations organised by his supporters here on December 29.
Geetika was an employee of the now-defunct MDLR Airlines owned by Kanda.
Geetika, 23, was found dead at her Ashok Vihar residence in northwest Delhi on August 5. In her suicide note, she had written that she was ending her life due to "harassment" by Kanda and his aide Aruna Chaddha, a co-accused in the case.
"His birthday is being celebrated in jail and in Delhi also. Gopal Kanda is always among us. He doesn't get afraid of anything. He doesn't fear anyone," Shiv Charan Sharma said.
Later, he tried to downplay the controversy by saying that the case was in the court.
"I respect the court and the court will decide whether he is a convict or not. If he has committed a crime, court will charge him, otherwise he will be released. The CBI is investigating the case. Within a few days we will get the result of the investigation,' he said.
BJP's Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi slammed Sharma, calling his remarks unfortunate and warned that people's anger will rise because of such "insensitive" comments.
Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi said the party would talk to Shiv Charan Sharma as he was not aware of the remark, but said political leaders should comment very carefully.
"He is insulting the girl (Geetika) by calling him Kanda's servant. He should be asked as to why the girl committed suicide," said Mamta Sharma, chief of the National Commission for Women (NCW).
BJP's Smriti Irani said the remark was extremely condemnable, especially when the atmosphere was surcharged after the death of the 23-year-old Delhi gangrape victim.
Sharma had also said Kanda was a brave and honest person who had been falsely implicated by those who were jealous of his "phenomenal" growth.