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Donning New Robes

Donning New Robes
Amar Singh was a counsel for Jaya Prada in a case against SP’s Azam Khan
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Above: Amar Singh was a counsel for Jaya Prada in a case against SP’s Azam Khan

In a surprising move, former SP strongman Amar Singh was seen in another avatar in the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court 

By Atul Chandra in Lucknow

On June 12, the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court saw a rare and intriguing sight—Amar Singh wearing black lawyer’s robes and fighting a case for his long-time friend, Jaya Prada. It is another matter that the bench dismissed Jaya Prada’s petition. What had everyone agog was how and when did Amar Singh, a businessman and former parliamentarian, become a lawyer and from where.

His career has been see-sawing for years and after being expelled from the post of general secretary of the Samajwadi Party (SP), he resigned from all the posts in January 2010. He even spent a brief period in judicial custody in 2011 and then retired from politics, saying he wanted to give more time to his family. However, in 2016, he was elected to the Rajya Sabha with help from the SP, before being thrown out again by Akhilesh Yadav and his uncle, Ram Gopal, after the former took control of the party.

This new avatar of Amar Singh was, however, not known to people. Few had any clue that he was a law graduate. Apparently, he studied law from Kolkata but that could not be confirmed.

Coming back to the petition, Jaya Prada had challenged Azam Khan’s election from the Rampur Lok Sabha constituency on jurisdictional grounds, a simple fact which the BJP candidate’s lawyer clearly lost sight of. Arguing for her, Amar Singh pleaded that as chancellor of Mohammad Ali Jauhar University, Khan was holding an office of profit and hence he should be disqualified.

Dismissing the petition, Justices Ranjan Roy and NK Jauhari said: “Rampur falls under the jurisdiction of the Allahabad High Court therefore the Lucknow Bench can’t adjudicate due to lack of territorial jurisdiction.” The bench also said that the writ petition itself was not maintainable and only an election petition can be moved in such circumstances.

Jaya Prada, Amar Singh, whom she once described as her “godfather”, and Azam Khan were once prominent members of the SP but fell out as Jaya Prada and Khan competed for prime position in the party. Matters came to a head in 2009 when, miffed over Jaya Prada being fielded as the SP’s Lok Sabha candidate from Rampur, Azam Khan resigned from the post of general secretary and its parliamentary board. Jaya Prada won the Rampur seat despite Khan’s strong campaign against her during the poll.

Jaya Prada first won from Rampur in 2004 when Amar Singh’s stars were in the ascendant and he enjoyed tremendous power in the party. A year later, Azam Khan, regarded as the SP’s Muslim face and known for his controversial remarks, was back with the party. And relations between him and Singh turned ugly. In an oblique reference to Singh, Khan said that “some bad elements” were behind the party’s problems. He said about Singh: “He said some time ago that he knew certain secrets of Mulayam. But we know his three qualities. His first quality is that he is a fixer.” He refused to mention Singh’s second quality but of his third quality he said: “He is a supplier.”

A peeved Singh responded with a threat: “I was with Mulayam with 14 years and would like to hear from him how many I had supplied during my days with the SP. The SP leader would be in jail if I opened my mouth.”

Jaya Prada also chipped in saying that Khan’s statement was an insult to all women and that his return to the party was ample proof that Mulayam Singh Yadav favoured those who insulted women.

It will be interesting to see what his next move will be.

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