Thursday, November 30, 2023

Azam Khan Hate Speech case: Supreme Court directs Election Commission to postpone notification for Rampur Assembly bypolls, asks lower court to decide case tomorrow

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The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the Election Commission to postpone the issuance of gazette notification for the Rampur Assembly bypolls by November 11, so as to enable Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan to seek a stay over his conviction in the 2019 hate speech case before the lower court.

The Bench of Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, Justice Hima Kohli and Justice J.B. Pardiwala further asked the Additional Sessions Judge, Rampur to consider and dispose of Khan’s petition regarding stay against conviction in the hate speech case tomorrow itself.   

Appearing for Khan, Advocate P Chidambaram apprised the Apex Court that the Samajwadi Party leader was convicted in the hate speech case by a court in Uttar Pradesh on October 27 and sentenced to three years imprisonment. 
Following his conviction, Khan was disqualified from the membership of the UP Assembly. 

As per the Counsel, the Rampur Sadar Assembly seat was declared as vacant the very next day after the trial court’s decision and the date for the by-election was fixed at November 10.However, another MLA who was sentenced on October 11, his membership was cancelled on November 8, noted Chidambaram.

Representing the Election Commission, Senior Advocate Arvind Datar said the nominations for the bypolls will start on November 17. Till then, Khan has enough time to seek stay on the sentence from the High Court. Then the disqualification will also stop.

The Commission further told the court that in 2015, it had issued a circular to all the states that the election process should be started immediately as soon as the seat becomes vacant.

Chidambaram said the disqualification will not stay, but in this case, the seat will remain vacant.

The Court noted in its order that the Sessions Judge had granted interim bail to Khan on an application moved by him against conviction and told the trial court to dispose of the case tomorrow.

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