The Supreme Court, on Wednesday, expressed concern about 'the coincidence' that as and when Samajwadi Party MLA, Azam Khan secures bail, a new case is registered against him.
At the request of the Additional Solicitor General, Mr. S.V. Raju, the Bench comprising L. Nageswara Rao, B.R. Gavai and A.S. Bopanna, granted time to the State Government to file a reply and adjourned the matter to Tuesday (17th May).
On the last date of hearing, the Bench expressed displeasure with the inordinate delay in disposing of his bail application by the High Court. However, as the judgment was already reserved by the High Court, the Bench decided to give a chance to decide it at the earliest. In view of the same, the matter was adjourned to 11th May. The Allahabad High Court has now (on 10th May), granted bail to Khan in a case pertaining to grabbing of enemy property and constructing Mohammad Ali Jauhar University on it.
On Monday (9th May), Senior Advocate, Mr. Kabil Sibal appearing on behalf of Khan mentioned the matter before the Bench and apprised it that another FIR has been filed against him in a ploy to keep him in jail. He submitted that he would file a writ petition in that regard and beseeched the Bench to take it up the matter on 11th May. The said writ petition was, thereafter, filed by Advocate-on-Record, Mr. Lazafeer Ahmad.
It appears that Khan has been, now, booked for forging building certificate to get recognition for Rampur Public School. He is the Chairman of the said institute. As per the report of PTI, a warrant had been issued against Khan in this regard. It appears he would be required to secure bail in the recent case to come out of Sitapur Jail, where he has been lodged since 26.02.2020.
Concerned about the manner in which new cases are being registered to prevent Khan from being enlarged on bail, Justice Rao remarked -
"What is this Raju? You would not let him go."
Mr. Raju asserted that he would demonstrate that all the cases against Khan are meritorious.
Displeased, Justice Rao stated -
"Cannot be 89 cases. He has been in jail for 2 years."
Justice Gavai reckoned:
"This chain will continue. As and when he is being released on bail in one matter, you register a new FIR and continue to keep him behind bars."
Submitting that Counsels representing Khan are trying to paint a picture that in a ruse to keep him in jail indefinitely, new cases are being registered, he argued that the cases filed against him are not frivolous.
"This is an impression that is sought to be created. I will dispel the impression. There is substance is all cases."
Justice Gavai stated, "Then why this coincidence?"
Mr. Raju clarified that the present charges had been brought against him earlier, but due to police inaction, the case was not pursued for quite some time.
Advocate, Mr. Nizam Pasha, appearing on behalf of Azam Khan submitted -
"He was not an accused in that matter till the application was mentioned here."
Khan had secured bail in most of the cases, but three. Bail was to be sought for these cases as he alleged that the BJP-led Government of Uttar Pradesh has 'adopted all means available' to stall the proceedings. Observing that some facts published by him had the potential to incite the public or members of a community disrupting peace and harmony, on 27.01.2022, a Special MP/MLA Court had rejected his bail plea. Khan filed his nomination from the Sitapur Jail as a candidate for Rampur, which went to polls on 14.02.2021, in the second phase of the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly Election. His bail application was pending before the Allahabad High Court for quite some time. In order to participate in the election campaign as Samajwadi Party's candidate from Rampur he approached the Supreme Court seeking ad-interim ex-parte bail. The Apex Court refused to interfere at that stage, but vide order dated 08.02.2022 asked the High Court to dispose of his bail application expeditiously.
[Case Title: Mohammad Azam Khan v. State of U.P. WP(Crl.) No. 39 of 2022]