In a major reprieve for Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan, a Rampur court on Wednesday acquitted him in a hate speech case.
The Rampur court overturned the verdict of a lower court, which had found the Samajwadi leader guilty last year of hate speech targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
He was convicted under Sections 153A (promoting enmity between two groups), 505 (statement conducing to public mischief) of the Indian Penal Code and section 125 of the Representation of People Act 1951.
Azam Khan, after being convicted in the case, was sentenced to three years in prison. He had appealed against the order, after which he was acquitted.
Interestingly, the Rampur Assembly seat, which he held was declared vacant after he was disqualified following his conviction.
BJP's Akash Saxena was elected in the subsequent by election.
Constitutional experts, who did not wish to be quoted, said that the case required deeper study since his conviction had been quashed but he had already been disqualified from the Assembly.
A former UP Assembly Speaker said, "It is for the Supreme Court now to review the provisions under which Azam Khan was disqualified without waiting for disposal of his plea against the conviction. The state government jumped the gun in his case -- and also others -- without waiting for the outcome of the appeal. The apex court will now have to decide what is to be done in such cases."
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