Saturday, September 27, 2014

Breather for Azam Khan in hate-speech

·                                 26 Sep 2014
·                                 Hindustan Times (Lucknow)
·                                 M Tariq Khan

HC relief to Azam in hate speech case, notice on office of profit 

LUCKNOW: In a relief to senior Uttar Pradesh minister Azam Khan, the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court on Thursday refused to accept a prayer for issuing directions to lodge an FIR against him over an alleged hate speech.
While refusing to issue a writ of ‘quo warranto’ (right to hold an office) against Azam, the court gave him and the state government six weeks’ time to respond whether, being a state cabinet minister, he (Khan) could simultaneously also hold the post of chancellor of Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar University (an office of profit).
An office of profit means a position that brings to the person holding it some financial gain, or advantage, or benefit. It may be an office or place of profit if it carries some remuneration, financial advantage, benefit etc. The amount of such profit is immaterial.
A division bench of justice Devi Prasad Singh and justice Arvind Kumar Tripathi passed the order on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Raza Husain and others. The court observed that since averments related to office-of-profit made by the petitioners were not denied by the state government, notice was being issued to Khan as only he could file a response whether he was enjoying or not any facility from the state or the university.
The petitioners had also sought lodging of an FIR against Khan for an alleged hate speech by him against a cleric. But the bench rejected the plea on the ground that the petitioners had not approached appropriate forum (read police) in this connection before filing the petition.
On behalf of the state government, additional advocate general Bulbul Godiyal contended that the petition was not maintainable and that the writ of quo warranto could not be issued in the matter of an alleged hate speech.
The petitioners’ counsel Ashok Pande alleged that despite being a cabinet minister, Azam was holding the post of chancellor of Jauhar University, which is an office of profit and hence against the law.
Pande cited the Supreme Court’s ruling in Jaya Bachchan’s case, which later led to her (Bachchan’s) expulsion from the Rajya Sabha because she was also the chairperson of the Uttar Pradesh Film Development Council, deemed an office of profit.
He said the office of the chancellor of the university is an office created by the state and Khan has been appointed as chancellor by the state. In this capacity, he is entitled to use the office, telephone, vehicle, residence and other facilities attached with the office. He is also entitled to salary and allowances from the university.
The petitioners’ counsel pointed out that since he (Khan) was enjoying these facilities attached with the office, there was no doubt that the office of the chancellor of the university was an office of profit and till such time he was holding the post of the chancellor of the university, he was disqualified to be chosen as member of Parliament and member of state legislature.

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