SC Refuses to Stay Conviction of SP Leader Abdullah Azam Khan in Criminal Case, Seeks UP Govt’s Reply

The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to stay the conviction and sentence of senior Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Azam Khan’s son Abdullah Azam Khan in a 15-year-old case without hearing the state.

A bench of justices KM Joseph and BV Nagarathna asked senior advocate Vivek Tankha and advocate Sumeer Sodhi to serve the copy of the petition to the standing counsel of Uttar Pradesh government and posted the matter for further hearing on April 5.

Tankha said Khan was a juvenile at the time of offence and hence his conviction and sentence be stayed.

“Sorry, for that we will have to hear the state also,” the bench said.

During the hearing, Tankha said Khan was juvenile at the time of incident and the high court has erred in not staying the session court’s order.

In his plea filed through Sodhi, Khan said he has challenged the order of Allahabad High Court dated March 17 by which it had asked the state to respond to the appeal in three weeks.

“The high court failed to appreciate the fact that if the application is not decided expeditiously then the same would be rendered infructuous and the petitioner would suffer irreparable harm which no court of competent jurisdiction would be able to undo even if the application is decided in favour of the petitioner,” it said.

Giving the detail of the case, he said the trial court had on February 13, convicted him for offences punishable under section 353 and 341 of IPC and other offences and sentenced him to undergo two years of simple imprisonment with a fine of Rs 2,000.

He said subsequent to the order of the trial court, the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly secretariat on February 15, notified that Suar constituency of Rampur district of Uttar Pradesh has become vacant with effect from February 13.

Khan said he appealed the verdict of the trial court before additional sessions judge Rampur and also filed an application for stay of conviction and sentence but the court on February 28 dismissed the plea and application.

He said that on the same day he approached the high court against the order of the sessions court but the high court on March 17, granted a time period of three weeks to the state government to respond to his plea.

“In a nutshell, the case of the SLP petitioner before this court is that the impugned order passed by the high court is bad in law as the said order is passed without taking into account the urgent requirement of the issues involved in the application preferred by the petitioner,” the plea said.

Khan said that non-adjudication of his application in a time bound manner would render the same infructuous and therefore it is imperative that the high court considers the application as soon as possible, given the potential consequences of the conviction and sentence, which may include re-election on his assembly seat in the assembly.

“The petitioner believes that during the pendency of the application before the high court, by-election to the Rampur constituency would be announced. The petitioner is concerned that if such an announcement is made and thereafter, the high court passes a stay order the same would be rendered moot due to the announcement of the by-elections,” his plea said.

Khan said his conviction is legally unsustainable as he was a minor when the offence was committed.

“There are judicial orders to the effect that the date of birth of the petitioner is January 1, 1993, hence the petitioner was merely 15 years old at the time of commission of the offence in question. Accordingly, the entire trial proceedings are flawed,” he said.

The FIR against Khan, Azam and seven others was lodged in 2008.

Khan had sat on dharna on a state highway on January 29, 2008 as their cavalcade was stopped by police for checking in the wake of an attack on a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) camp in Rampur in Uttar Pradesh on December 31, 2007.

The FIR was lodged at the Chhajlait police station.

While Khan and Azam were sentenced to two years in jail under section 353 (criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty) and other provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the seven other accused were exonerated.

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