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Land grabbing case: Supreme Court stays Allahabad High Court’s bail condition to Azam Khan

Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan who was released from Sitapur jail on May 20 after Supreme Court granted him bail, in Rampur.

Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan who was released from Sitapur jail on May 20 after Supreme Court granted him bail, in Rampur. | Photo Credit: PTI

The Supreme Court on May 27 stayed a condition imposed on Samajwadi Party leader Mohammad Azam Khan by the Allahabad High Court that he will only be granted regular bail if he "fully cooperates" with the measuring, walling and barb-wiring of a 13.842-hectare evacuee property, which is the focal point of a land grabbing case against the Rampur MLA.

The apex court said the condition imposed by the High Court for regular bail was “disproportionate and has no reasonable link with the conditions which are required to be imposed to secure the presence of the accused to ensure that the fairness of trial is not impeded”.

The court said the condition had prima facie “exceeded the settled parameters” for grant of bail. Mr. Khan has so far got bail in 88 criminal cases charged against him. This one was the 89th case.

A Vacation Bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Bela Trivedi also asked Mr. Khan's lawyer to show its stay order to the local authorities who want to "demolish" two buildings of Mohammad Ali Jauhar University, the politician's “dream project” in his constituency.

Mr. Khan is accused of cheating, forging documents, criminally trespassing and “encircling” the 13-odd hectares, an agricultural land which belonged to a person who migrated to Pakistan during the Partition and was later vested with the government under the Enemy Property Act of 1968, into the university grounds.

In jail since February 2020

He has been in jail in the case since February 2020 and had sought bail during trial. The trial court had refused and the High Court, in a May 10 order sprinkled with terms variously describing Mr. Khan as “political heavyweight” of Uttar Pradesh, “political boss”, “virtual political giant”, granted him interim bail considering his age and medical condition.

But the High Court said the interim bail would be converted to regular bail only if the Rampur District Magistrate gave the “final nod” to the completion of the exercise of measuring, securing and taking of actual possession of the disputed land by the local authorities before June 30 on behalf of Administrator of Evacuee Property without meeting with any “hindrance or obstacles” from either him or the varsity.

The High Court had also gone further to request the Custodian, Evacuee Property, to hand over the disputed property to “some para military forces for their training purposes, as already done in the year 2014”. The Supreme Court stayed all this on May 27.

Sibal’s plea

After the order was pronounced, senior advocate Kapil Sibal, for Mr. Khan, informed the court about a notice given to the university on May 18 about the intent to demolish two of its buildings.

“These buildings have nothing to do with the land in question… Please say that no consequential action should be taken by them,” Mr. Sibal urged.

“It seems they have relied on the order of May 10… You can show this order of ours to the SDM because we have stayed exactly that specific direction of the High Court,” Justice Chandrachud addressed the senior lawyer.

The court issued notice in the case and listed it for further hearing after the summer vacations.

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Printable version | May 27, 2022 8:22:14 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/land-grabbing-case-sc-stays-allahabad-hcs-bail-conditionto-azam-khan/article65467004.ece