After Samajwadi Party (SP) MLA from the Suar Assembly segment Abdullah Azam Khan was disqualified as Uttar Pradesh MLA within 48 hours of his conviction by a Moradabad court in a 15-year-old case, the Opposition raised question over the prompt action by the Legislative Assembly, alleging different interpretation of the law for members of the ruling party and the Opposition.
“While convicted legislators belonging to the ruling BJP are given ample time to appeal in higher courts, so that they get a chance to save their membership, in the cases related to the SP, at times even the Uttar Pradesh Assembly is not waiting for official communication from the courts, and the institution of Speaker and other democratic pillars are misused by the ruling BJP,” SP national spokesperson Udaiveer Singh told The Hindu.
The disqualified SP leader is the son of influential Muslim face of the party and former 10-term MLA from Rampur Sadar seat Azam Khan, who is also convicted in the same matter. The case was registered against Mr. Abdullah Azam Khan and his father in 2008 under Sections 341 (wrongful restraint) and 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty) of the Indian Penal Code.
Also read: Azam Khan’s conviction, disqualification from Assembly create a flutter in U.P.
On Monday, the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM), Moradabad sentenced the father-son duo to two years’ imprisonment and imposed a fine of ₹3,000 each.
Last year, when Abdullah’s father Azam Khan, the then Rampur MLA, was disqualified within 48 hours from the Vidhan Sabha under the provisions of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 after he was convicted in a 2019 hate speech case, the quick action then also raised eyebrows as the Speaker was yet to decide on the status of BJP MLA Vikram Saini, who was convicted three weeks ago by a special court in connection with a Muzaffarnagar riots case of 2013 but still not disqualified from the Vidhan Sabha. After the matter came to limelight, the Assembly revoked the membership of Mr. Saini.
Even before the Rampur MLA case, it took roughly two weeks for the Assembly to issue notification disqualifying then BJP MLA from Gosaiganj, Indra Pratap alias Khabbu Tiwari, after his conviction for five years in a 28-year-old fake mark sheet case. Since March 2017, on seven occasions, the MLAs were disqualified due to convictions. Out of seven instances, three relates to Mr. Abdullah Azam and his father with the membership of Abdullah ending twice, in 2020 (during the 17th Legislative Assembly) and 2023.
The Representation of the People Act, 1951 (RPA), Section (8) says anyone sentenced to imprisonment of two years or more faces disqualification “from the date of such conviction” and a bar of six years is imposed for contesting elections after serving term in prison.