Uttar Pradesh, India: On April 13, the Allahabad High Court dismissed Samajwadi Party (SP) leader and former MLA Abdullah Azam Khan’s plea seeking a stay on conviction in the 2008 Chhajlet case which led to his loss of MLA seat from Suar, Rampur constituency. The Court stated that it is now the need of the hour to have purity in politics. The Court added that the representative of the people “should be man of clear antecedent.”
The Court said that Abdullah Azam Khan “is trying to seek stay of his conviction on absolutely non-existent grounds. It is well-settled principle of law that stay of conviction is not a rule but an exception to be resorted to in rare cases.” Furthermore, the Court noted that the former MLA has about 46 criminal cases pending against him. The disqualified MLA argued that at the date of the incident, he was a minor, however, the trial court proceeded with the trial treating him as an adult, and therefore, his entire trial stands vitiated. However, the Additional Advocate General submitted that Abdullah Azam Khan never submitted the argument that he was a minor before the trial court.
The AAG argued, “Even, at the time of recording the sentence, the applicant did not raise any plea that at the time of incident, he was a juvenile and rather stated that he is highly educated person and is presently a Member of Legislative Assembly and earlier also, was a Member of Legislative Assembly and as such, a compassionate view be taken.”
Furthermore, the AAG submitted that after the former MLA’s conviction was recorded, he claimed that he was illegally tried as an adult, and therefore, “the entire trial stands vitiated and his conviction and sentence is liable to be set aside, which by no stretch of imagination, is conceivable and worth consideration.”The Court noted, “Claim of juvenility lacking in credibility or frivolous claim of juvenility or patently absurd or inherently improbable claim of juvenility must be rejected by the court at threshold whenever raised.”
“Merely because the applicant has been held to be a minor in the election petition, the said benefit cannot be extended to him in instant criminal trial without he being held to be a minor as provided under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act and therefore, the judgment in the civil appeal would not, in any way, render any benefit to the applicant for staying his conviction and is also liable to be repelled,” the Court added.
The Court noted, “It is now need of the hour to have purity in politics. Representatives of people should be man of clear antecedent.” The Court added, “In the backdrop of the said circumstances, refusal to stay the conviction would not, in any way, result in injustice to the applicant. In view of the foregoing discussions, in my considered opinion, there is no reasonable ground to stay the conviction of the applicant in the facts and circumstances of the case. The impugned order passed by the appellate court is just, proper and legal and do not call for any interference.”
The Court concluded, “The present application under Section 389(2) Cr.P.C. is devoid of merits and is accordingly dismissed.”
On February 13, a Special MP/MLA Court convicted Abdullah Azam Khan and his father, SP leader and former MP Azam Khan, for blocking traffic and staging a protest on a highway after their vehicle was stopped for checking by the police in Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh. Thereafter, his seat was declared “vacant” from the date of his conviction.
It is pertinent to note that u/s 8(3) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, “a person convicted of any offence and sentenced to imprisonment for no less than two years shall be disqualified from the date of such conviction and shall continue to be disqualified for a period of six years since his release.” The provision provides for automatic disqualification of an MP, MLA or MLC from the date of conviction when such elected representative is convicted for not less than two years.
The SP leader’s vehicle was stopped for having black-tinted windows. Abdullah Azam Khan was driving the car and failed to produce the vehicle’s documents when asked to do so by the police. Azam Khan, seated at the back, stepped out of the vehicle and escalated the altercation with the police. Other SP members reached the spot, further escalating the confrontation and blocking the road in protest.
The Special MP/MLA Court convicted the father-son duo under Indian Penal Code’s section 341 (wrongful restraint) and section 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge from his duty) and other provisions and sentenced them to two years imprisonment and imposed a Rs 3000 fine each.
Abdullah Azam Khan’s fate mimicked his father’s as Azam Khan’s Rampur seat was declared “vacant” earlier after he was convicted in the hate speech case connected to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.