UP court overturns Azam Khan’s conviction in 2019 hate speech case

A Rampur court on Wednesday acquitted Samajwadi Party founding leader Azam Khan in a 2019 hate speech case. Khan’s conviction in the case last year led to Khan losing his Assembly membership, resulting in a bypoll, which was won by the BJP’s Akash Saxena.

Khan was alleged to have used ‘improper’ language for Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and other Hindutva politicians.

Rampur Additional District and Sessions Judge (MP/MLA court) Amitveer Singh set aside a lower court order that convicted Khan in a hate speech case and sentenced him to three years in prison.

“My client has been acquitted by the additional district and sessions court. He was accused of giving hate speech… The session court has considered the lower court order wrong and said the prosecution couldn’t prove its case. It is a worrying issue. In the same case that he has been acquitted, Azam Khan sahab had spent considerable time in prison. Because of the conviction in the same case, he lost his membership (to the Assembly) and by-elections were held here. Because of the same case, his name was struck off from the electoral rolls later. The verdict has come, and our entire legal team will do research on this and decide the next course of action,” Advocate Zubair Ahmad, who represented Khan in the court said to Indian Express.

Since the BJP came to power in Uttar Pradesh in 2017, as many as 81 cases have been registered against Azam Khan in Rampur on various charges, including land-grabbing, cheating and criminal trespass. Khan’s wife Tanzeen Fatima and son Abdullah Azam were also booked along with him in some of these cases. All three are currently out on bail. The family and Samajwadi Party have been alleging that they were targeted due to their strong opposition to the Hindu nationalist government.