The Allahabad High Court has set aside the order by the Uttar Pradesh court for taking cognizance against Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Azam Khan in a 2007 communal speech case against him.
The Single-judge Justice Dinesh Kumar Singh said that although the offence under Section 153A which talks about promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion is a serious offence,
The statute however states that for taking cognizance for such an offence there needs to be a prior sanction by the State government, which was not obtained in the present case.
The Court added that as there was no prior sanction before taking cognizance so the impugned order so far taking cognizance, is bad in law and is liable to be set aside.
In the current case, Azam Khan,while campaigning for his party candidate for a Vidhan constituency, Firozabad, gave a provocative and communal speech and violated the order in place under Section 144 (power to issue order in urgent cases of nuisance of apprehended danger) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).
In this regard, a first information report (FIR) was lodged against him under Sections 188 and 153A IPC.
The Court was told that his address was recorded and from perusal of the contents of the address, the offence under Sections 188 and 153A IPC were attracted.
Khan moved the plea under Section 482 CrPC to quash the entire proceedings along with the chargesheet in the case.
The counsel of Azam Khan argued that the alleged CD was not part of the case diary and contents too are not reported correctly.
The Counsel also said that that there is a specific bar under Section 196(1) of CrPC regarding for taking cognizance for an offence under Section 153A IPC without prior sanction of the State government.
As no sanction was obtained in this case before the cognizance ,the trial court order was bad in law, it was contended.
The State counsel denied the submissions made by Khan’s counsel and argued that Khan has been avoiding the process.
The counsel also added that there is no bar when it comes to registration of FIR, investigation of the offence or arresting an accused and the bar is only with respect to taking cognizance without prior sanction.
The counsel further said that under Section 196 (1) CrPC, the proceedings against the petitioner cannot be quashed.
After taking into consideration the facts and arguments, the Court partly allowed the plea and set aside the UP court’s order of taking cognizance.
The State may grant sanction if it thinks proper and if such sanction is granted, the court concerned may proceed against Khan in accordance with law.
The Order said that in view thereof, the present petition is partly allowed and the order of taking cognizance is hereby set aside.