Azam Khan’s bail: Supreme Court stays High Court’s disproportionate bail condition

The Allahabad High Court, while granting bail to the Samajwadi Party leader, Azam Khan, had directed the district magistrate to take over possession of the property attached to Jauhar University at Rampur, as part of the interim conditions for his release.

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ON May 27, the Supreme Court stayed the Allahabad High Court’s order directing the district magistrate to take over possession of the property attached to Jauhar University at Rampur as part of the interim bail conditions for the release of the Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan. Khan is the chancellor of the University.

A division bench comprising Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Bela Trivedi was of the prima facie view that the bail condition imposed by the high court was disproportionate, and had no reasonable nexus to the conditions which were required to be imposed to secure the presence of the accused and to ensure that the fairness of the trial was not impeded.

“Prima facie, the High Court, while imposing conditions for the grant of bail, has exceeded the settled parameters governing the exercise of the jurisdiction under Section 439 of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973″, the bench observed.

It thus issued notice to the Uttar Pradesh government and directed a stay of the bail condition while fixing July 16 as the next date of hearing. The bench was hearing an appeal filed by Khan against the high court order, passed on May 10.

The high court granted bail to Khan on the grounds of age and his medical condition, apart from the fact that “in most of the cases in which the prosecution was initiated against him, he had been bailed out”.  It directed the District Magistrate, Rampur to hold a measurement of the landed property in dispute admesuring area of 13.842 hectares at village Singhan Khera, Pargana and tehsil-sadar, district Rampur, and thereafter raise a boundary wall and barbed wire around it.  The high court also directed the district magistrate to take the actual physical possession of the property on behalf of the Administrator of Evacuee Property, Mumbai latest by June 30.

The high court added, “In this exercise the the local Revenue authorities, University authorities would fully cooperate and shall not cause any hindrance or obstacle while carrying out aforesaid direction. Since the applicant Mohd. Azam Khan is already in jail for almost two and half years, he shall be released on interim bail during this exercise in aforesaid case crime by furnishing a personal bond of Rs.1 lac and two sureties of the like amount to the satisfaction of the court concerned. After completion of aforesaid exercise to the satisfaction of the District Magistrate, Rampur and after taking his final nod in the aforesaid drill, then only his interim bail would be converted into regular bail on the same 38 terms and conditions and on the same bonds as furnished earlier”.

Besides, the high court had directed that the Custodian Evacuee Property, Mumbai to hand over the property in dispute to some para military forces for their training purposes.

The present case pertains to Case Crime No. 312 of 2019, under Sections 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property), 467 (forgery of valuable property, will, etc.), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), 471 (using as genuine a forged document or electronic record), 447 (punishment for criminal trespass), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence, or giving false information to screen offender), and 120B (punishment of criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code, and Section 3 of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, 1984 at Police Station-Azeem Nagar, District-Rampur. The allegations against Khan are that he swindled 45 gatas ad-measuring 13.842 hectares of land situated at village- Singhan Khera, Pargana and tehsil sadar, District Rampur, which had been declared as ‘Enemy Property‘.

Khan is facing prosecution in as many as 87 different cases. He walked out of jail last week two years after the Supreme Court, using its inherent power, released him on interim bail.

Click here to view the full Supreme Court order.