Allahabad HC quashes Firozabad Court order taking cognizance against Azam Khan in 2007 'Provocative' Speech Case

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Azam Khan had reportedly given a provocative speech in 2007 while campaigning for his party candidate in Firozabad.

The Allahabad High Court has set aside the order of taking cognizance by a local court in Firozabad district of Uttar Pradesh against Samajwadi Party Leader Azam Khan in a 2007 provocative speech case.

The single judge bench of Justice Dinesh Kumar Singh passed the order in the plea moved by Khan to quash the charge sheet as well as the entire proceedings in the case against him.

The court stated that though the offence under Section 153A of the IPC is a serious offence, the statute has created a bar for taking cognizance for such an offence unless there is a prior sanction of the State government, which was not obtained in the present case.

Therefore, to the extent of taking cognizance, court set aside the impugned order of the Firozabad court.

However, court clarified that the State Government may grant sanction if it thinks proper on the material placed before it and, if the sanction is granted, the court concerned may proceed against Khan in accordance with law from the stage of taking cognizance.

The FIR in the case was registered in 2007 against Khan under Sections 188 and 153-A of the IPC at Police Station Rasoolpur, District Firozabad.

Allegations against Khan were that during a public speech in support of Samajwadi Party (SP) candidate who was contesting the election from 335 Vidhan Sabha Constituency, Firozabad, Khan gave provocative and communal speech and violated the order of Section 144 CrPC.

Pressing for quashing the case, Khan’s counsel argued before the high court that the entire prosecution was malicious as Khan belonged to SP when Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) was in power.

More importantly, he contended that there is specific bar under Section 196(1) Cr.P.C. regarding taking cognizance for an offence under Section 153-A IPC without prior sanction of the State Government and which was not taken in the case against Khan.

Therefore, he asserted that the order of the Firozabad court taking cognizance against Khan was bad in law inasmuch as it is hit by provisions of Section 196(1) CrPC.

On the contrary, the state counsel argued that Khan had been avoiding the process of the court and it was only in 2018 when he challenged the proceedings in the case, though non-bailable warrants had been issued against him in the case.

He further contended that there is no bar for registration of the FIR and investigating the offence or arresting an accused.

Therefore, he asserted that even if the order of taking cognizance was set aside on the ground of no sanction by the State Government under Section 196(1) CrPC, the proceedings could not be quashed against Khan.

While agreeing with the latter but finding sufficient material to support the allegation for offence under Section 153-A IPC against Khan, court partly allowed his plea.

Case Title: Mohammad Azam Khan v. State of U.P. and Another