In a relief to Samajwadi Party MP Azam Khan, the Allahabad High Court on Wednesday ordered a stay on his arrest in 27 criminal cases of alleged grabbing of land in Rampur, subject to his cooperation with the police investigation.
The 27 FIRs were lodged between July 13 and July 20 this year by Rampur administration over alleged land grab for expansion of Mohammad Ali Jauhar University — Azam Khan is the chancellor of the private university run by a Trust.
Farmers in the area have alleged that Azam Khan and former deputy superintendent of police Aaley Hasan — who is now retired and currently working as the chief security officer of the university — forcibly took away their land between 2004 and 2005 and made it a part of the university campus, which is spread in an area of over 300 acres.
In total, Khan is facing 86 cases, including the 27 lodged since April this year. Other than land grab charge, allegations against him include theft, criminal intimidation, cheating, criminal trespass, hate speech among others.
“The court’s decision of ordering a stay on the arrest of accused Azam Khan and Aaley Hasan is subject to their cooperation with the police investigation. The court’s order is valid till further order, which is expected on October 24,” Additional Advocate General Vinod Diwakar said.
The Bench of Justice Manoj Misra and Justice Manju Rani Chauhan has fixed October 24 as the next date of hearing.
“The accused had moved the court, saying that they fear arrest. We said that Khan and Hasan are not cooperating in the investigation and not replying to the notices served to them. The court then said that they will put a stay on the arrest but they will have to cooperate with the police and join the investigation,” the government’s counsel said, adding, “
The court did not discuss much on the issue raised by the accused that what is the need of 27 different FIRs. However, our point was that though the accused are the same in these cases, the victims and the portion of land is different in each case.”
Meanwhile, Khan’s lawyer, Mohammad Khalid, said they told the court that the FIRs registered against Khan was a part of “political vendetta” by the BJP government.
“In the FIRs registered against Khan an allegation was made by farmers that some portion of the Jauhar University’s land is taken by them illegally. Our prayer was that we purchased the land in a legal and transparent way and even made proper payment to them. We produced document copies to prove our point. We also told the court that the FIRs against Khan were malafide and the government, local DM and SP were working in a biased manner,” said Khalid.
“We said that political vendetta was the reason, which is why instead of a civil proceeding, 27 separate criminal cases were registered against Azam Khan at the same police station, with same content and allegation. This is to increase the number of cases against him and make him look like a criminal,” the lawyer added.