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'No Order Passed in 137 Days': SC Slams Allahabad HC's Delay in Bail to Azam Khan

'He was released on bail in 86 cases. This is one case. This is a travesty of justice. We can only say this much now.'

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday, May 6, expressed displeasure over Allahabad high court’s delay in disposing of the bail application of Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan in a land grabbing case, saying this is a travesty of justice.

Counsel appearing for Khan told the apex court that the high court has reserved its verdict on the bail application.

A bench comprising Justices L. Nageswara Rao and B.R. Gavai noted that Khan has got bail in 86 out of 87 cases, and said it would hear the matter on May 11, expressing hope that by then, the high court will pass an order.

The Allahabad high court had on Thursday reserved its order on the bail application of Khan in a case where he is accused of grabbing property for his Mohammad Ali Jauhar University project.

“Judgment cannot be reserved now that we will tell you. 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. We can only say this much now. If required we will say more. Let this come on Wednesday. Let us give them a chance for two days,” the bench said, according to LiveLaw.

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 BJP 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.

Khan’s supporters believe that these FIRs have been registered based on complaints procured by the Bhartiya Janata Party with the intention to keep Khan incarcerated indefinitely. The plea in the apex court, filed by Khan before the election and seeking bail to campaign in Uttar Pradesh, 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.

Also watch | Azam Khan Supporters Say SP Leader Will Win Handsomely Even Though He’s in Jail

The apex court in February had refused interim bail to Khan for campaigning in the Uttar Pradesh elections and asked him to approach the court concerned for expeditious disposal.

Khan is at present lodged in Sitapur jail.

The high court on December 4, 2021 had reserved its decision on bail in the current land grab case. However, the state government later submitted an application and sought permission to present some new facts through fresh affidavits, which were filed on Thursday.

An FIR was lodged against Khan and others also alleging misappropriation of public money of more than hundreds of crores of rupees and under various sections of the IPC and the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act.

It was alleged in FIRs that during Partition one Imamuddin Qureshi left for Pakistan and his land was recorded as “enemy property,” but that Khan in collusion with others allegedly took the 13.842-hectare plot.

In The Wire‘s report, it was noted that 22 FIRs allege that Azam Khan’s Mohammad Ali Jauhar University was built on land that has been grabbed or forcibly acquired by the Samajwadi Party leader. These 22 FIRs were registered 13 years after the alleged crime took place. The university was established in 2006 and no complaints were filed till July 2019.

However, between July 12 and 20, 2019, 22 FIRs were registered at Rampur’s Azeem Nagar police station, at odd hours of the morning and night, the report noted.