Hate speech relief for Azam, but HC raises office-of-profit query

In a relief to senior Uttar Pradesh Minister Azam Khan, the Allahabad High Court Thursday refused to accept a prayer for issuing directions for the lodging of an FIR against him over an alleged hate speech.

Lucknow: In a relief to senior Uttar Pradesh Minister Azam Khan, the Allahabad High Court Thursday refused to accept a prayer for issuing directions for the lodging of an FIR against him over an alleged hate speech.

The Lucknow bench of the court also refused to issue a writ of 'quo warranto' (right to hold an office or governmental privilege) against him in the matter.

However, the court issued a notice to Azam and sought a reply from him within six weeks on whether, being a state Cabinet Minister, he can hold the office of the Chancellor of Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar University.

A division bench of Justices Devi Prasad Singh and Arvind Kumar Tripathi passed the order on a writ petition filed by two persons seeking a direction in the nature of quo warranto against Azam asking him to explain.

A direction was also sought in the plea for the lodging of an FIR against the Minister in connection with an alleged hate speech by him targeting a cleric.

The petitioners' counsel Ashok Pandey 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.

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.

Godiyal also submitted that Azam does not comes under the purview of office of profit as the Chancellor.

The court provided six weeks to Azam and the government to file their response in the matter. The petitioners may file their rejoinder affidavit within two weeks thereafter.

The court fixed the next date of hearing after two months.

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