UP Court Convicts Azam Khan in Hate Speech Case, Sentenced to 3 Years in Jail

The SP leader had been booked at Rampur on April 9, 2019, for making “provocative speeches” against Adityanath and the erstwhile district magistrate Aunjaneya Kumar Singh.

Listen to this article:

New Delhi: Senior Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Azam Khan was on Thursday, October 27, convicted in a 2019 case of hate speech for making provocative speeches against Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath and sentenced to three years in jail.

However, the special MP/MLA court in Rampur granted bail to the Rampur MLA, allowing him time to file an appeal in a higher court.

The MP/MLA court also imposed a fine of Rs 25,000 on Khan, advocate Ajay Tiwari said.

According to a report in the Times of India, Khan had been booked at Rampur on April 9, 2019, for making “provocative speeches” against Adityanath and the erstwhile district magistrate Aunjaneya Kumar Singh. He had been charged under Indian Penal Code (IPC) Sections 153-A (promoting enmity between groups), 505-1 (Statements conducing to public mischief; making, publishing or circulating any statement, rumour or report), and Section 125 of the Representation of People Act, 1951.

A first information report (FIR) in the case had been registered on the basis of a complaint filed by local Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and advocate Akash Saxena.

Also read: Who’s Afraid of Azam Khan? Of 87 FIRs Pending, 84 Filed Since Yogi Became UP CM

The special Rampur court is expected to announce the quantum of punishment in the case later today, according to a report in NDTV. If sentenced to jail time exceeding two years, Khan, the MLA from Suar in Rampur, would be disqualified from the state assembly.

While Section 8(4) of the Representation of People Act earlier allowed convicted MPs and MLAs to continue to hold office for a period of three months after their conviction in order to file appeals, this provision was struck down as being unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2013. Therefore, such disqualifications will be effective from the date of the conviction when lawmakers are sentenced to jail terms of two years or greater.

Khan was released from prison in May this year after being held for 27 months. The leader had 87 cases registered against him for alleged cheating, land grabbing and a host of other alleged offences. While he was able to secure bail in most of these cases, delays in bail proceedings in one case had kept him from being released.

In a report for The Wire ahead of the Uttar Pradesh assembly election earlier this year, Seemi Pasha 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 – and 81 of these 84 cases were registered in a short period before and after the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Finally, on May 19, after criticising the long-drawn bail proceedings, the Supreme Court invoked its special powers under Article 142 of the constitution to grant interim bail to the SP leader.