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SC stays HC's bail condition on Azam Khan in enemy property case

May 27, 2022 17:23 IST

The Supreme Court on Friday stayed the Allahabad high court's bail condition imposed on Samajwadi Party MLA Azam Khan directing the district magistrate of Rampur to take possession of the land attached to the Jauhar University campus in an alleged grabbing of enemy property case.

IMAGE: Samajwadi Party MLA Azam Khan. Photograph: PTI Photo

A vacation bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Bela M Trivedi said that prima facie the Allahabad high court's bail condition imposed on Khan is disproportionate and sounds like a decree of a civil court.

 

The bench, while referring to the May 10 order of the Allahabad high court, said that it was opined that bail was being granted to the petitioner (Khan) on the ground of age and his health condition, apart from the fact that in most of the cases in which the prosecution was initiated against him, he has been bailed out.

"However, prima facie the conditions which have been imposed by the high court for the grant of bail are disproportionate and have no reasonable link with the conditions which are required to be imposed to secure the presence of the accused and to ensure the fairness of the trial is not impeded," the bench said.

It said that in the impugned order of the High Court, the single judge has observed that "the present order in the bail application may sound like a decree of a civil court dealing and deciding the title over the property."

The bench said, "Prima facie the high court while imposing the conditions for grant of bail has exceeded the settled parameters governing the exercise of the jurisdiction under section 439 CrPC."

The bench then stayed a slew of directions of the high court issued to the district magistrate, Rampur to measure the land, take possession of the land attached to the University, and sought a response from the Uttar Pradesh government.

After dictating the order, the bench told senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Khan, that it has stayed with the main directions issued in the order as the rest of the conditions are innocuous.

Sibal said that many of the conditions are not appropriate like Khan has to give an undertaking that he shall not seek adjournment on the date fixed for hearing, the trial is to be completed in one year and day-to-day trial.

The bench said that it will look into those conditions on the next date of hearing and added that these conditions are innocuous and are given in most of the bail orders of the Allahabad high court.

Sibal said that the bench should direct that these conditions shall not be applicable till this court decides the petition.

The bench said, "We have stayed the main conditions. Rest are innocuous conditions which are put by every single judge in Allahabad high court. Trial is not commencing soon, we are putting the matter on reopening but the direction to the district magistrate to measure, custodian of enemy property, etc, we have stayed all those conditions."

Sibal said, "How, they want to demolish the University. This was an open land. He (district magistrate) has given notice on May 18, that I will demolish your two buildings. It has nothing to do with the land. No notice to anybody. They come and give notice like this. This Court should say that no consequential action shall take place."

The bench told Sibal that he can show this order to them (district administration) as the court had stayed exactly these conditions of the bail order.

On May 24, the top court had agreed to hear a plea by Khan challenging a bail condition imposed by the Allahabad high court, which he claimed is for demolishing a part of his Jauhar University allegedly built by grabbing enemy property.

Earlier, advocate Nizam Pasha, appearing for Khan, has mentioned the matter for urgent listing before the top court and said the high court has ordered the "demolition" of the university as a condition for interim bail, and now the district administration seeks to execute the order.

On May 10, the high court while granting interim bail to Khan had directed the Rampur district magistrate to take possession of the enemy property attached to the campus of Jauhar University by June 30, 2022, and raise the boundary wall with barbed wire around it.

It had said that on completion of the mentioned exercise of taking the possession of the land to the satisfaction of the DM, Rampur, the interim bail of Azam Khan shall be converted into regular bail.

Pasha had told the apex court that the status of the land, on which the university is built, is the subject matter of a writ petition in the high court between the Waqf Board and the custodian of the land in which a stay has been ordered.

On May 19, the top court while exercising its powers under Article 142 of the Constitution had granted Khan (73) interim bail in an alleged cheating case paving way for his release from prison.

Khan, who is a Member of the legislative assembly from Rampur Sadar constituency, was lodged in the Sitapur jail of the State for more than two years.

An FIR was lodged at Azem Nagar police station in Rampur against Khan and others in 2019 for alleged grabbing of enemy property and misappropriation of public money of more than hundreds of crores of rupees.

It was alleged in the FIR that during partition one Imamuddin Qureshi went to Pakistan and his land was recorded as enemy property, but Khan in collusion with others grabbed the 13.842-hectare plot.

It sought a response from the Uttar Pradesh government on the plea of Azam Khan challenging the bail condition imposed by  the Allahabad HC related to Jauhar University.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Khan, said that the district magistrate, Rampur, has issued a notice seeking to vacate buildings of the university and is seeking to demolish them.

The bench said it is staying the conditions imposed by the high court and would hear the matter after the vacation.

On May 24, the top court had agreed to hear a plea by Khan challenging a bail condition imposed by the Allahabad high court, which he claimed is for demolishing a part of his Jauhar University allegedly built by grabbing enemy property.

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