Advance Azam Khan hearing, defer poll order, SC tells court, EC, Legal News, ET LegalWorld – Legal Firms

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Election Commission to defer issuance of notification for bypoll to Rampur assembly seat till Friday to enable SP leader Azam Khan, whose conviction and sentence for three years in a criminal case led to his disqualification and the seat being declared vacant, a fair chance to seek stay of conviction and continue as MLA.

A bench of Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justices Hima Kohli and J B Pardiwala disagreed with EC counsel Arvind Datar’s argument that once the conviction and sentence of more than two years is passed by a court, the disqualification is automatic. He said even if an appellate court stayed the conviction, it would only enable the person to contest the by-election. He said that the EC is bound to announce election schedule within a week of the legislative assembly declaring the seat vacant, which in case of Rampur was done a day after a trial court convicted Khan on October 27.

Khan’s counsel P Chidamabaram pointed out that the assembly did not declare the Khatauli seat vacant till November 7 even though the BJP MLA was convicted and sentenced to two years imprisonment on October 11. The bench said if the conviction is stayed by an appellate court, then the basis of disqualification gets obliterated and the person can continue as MLA.

The SC was informed that Rampur additional sessions judge on Wednesday granted interim bail to Khan and has posted his application for stay of conviction for hearing on November 15. The bench ordered the sessions judge to advance the hearing on the plea for stay on conviction to Thursday and decide the application that day itself. “If he fails to get a stay on conviction, then the EC can go ahead with issuance of the notification for commencing the poll process for the by-election to Rampur constituency,” the bench said.

UP’s additional advocate general said that as per the SC rulings, disqualification of an elected member is automatic on conviction if the sentence is of more than two years. However, the SC asked why the assembly took a long time to declare the Khatauli seat vacant?

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