SC Invokes Special Powers to Grant Interim Bail to SP Leader Azam Khan

Numerous cases connected to land grabbing and cheating have been slapped on Khan since the BJP came to power in Uttar Pradesh in 2017. The timing of many of them has led to questions and allegations of political motives having been in play.

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday, May 19, granted interim bail to jailed Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan.

A bench headed by Justice L. Nageswara Rao invoked its special power under Article 142 of the constitution to grant relief to Khan in view of the peculiar facts of the case. Numerous cases with charges of land grabbing and cheating had been slapped on Khan since the Adityanath government came to be in Uttar Pradesh in 2017 – the timing of many of them has led to questions on political motivation.

“This is a fit case to exercise the powers under Article 142,” the bench, also comprising Justices B.R. Gavai and A.S. Bopanna, said.

The apex court said the interim bail will be in force till the court decides the application for regular bail. If the court’s decision is against the grant of regular bail, the interim bail will operate for a further period of two weeks, the Supreme Court also said, according to LiveLaw.

Khan is at present lodged in Sitapur jail. The plea in the apex court, which had been filed by Khan before the Uttar Pradesh assembly election earlier this year and through which he had sought bail to campaign in the state, had contended that the state has adopted all means available to purposefully delay the proceedings so as to ensure that he is incarcerated during the polls.

On May 6, the Supreme Court had expressed displeasure over the Allahabad high court’s delay in disposing of Khan’s bail application, saying it was a travesty of justice that he had got bail in 86 out of 87 cases but that the high court had not given him bail in one.

“137 days. No order has been passed. He was released on bail in 86 cases. This is one case. This is a travesty of justice,” the bench had said.

Subsequently, even though the Allahabad high court gave him bail in the one remaining case, judicial custody of Khan was granted in another case until May 19, today.

The apex court had expressed concern about ‘the coincidence’ of a new FIR being registered against Khan while he is held in connection with other cases, LiveLaw has reported.

In a report for The Wire ahead of the Uttar Pradesh election, Seemi Pasha had noted that out of the 87 criminal cases pending against Khan, as many as 84 FIRs were registered in the two years after the Bharatiya Janata Party came into power in Uttar Pradesh in 2017.

Eighty one out of these 84 cases were registered during the period immediately before and after the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.