NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court Thursday granted interim bail to jailed Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan in a cheating case, saying it is a fit case to invoke its extraordinary power under Article 142 of the Constitution to grant relief. A bench headed by Justice L Nageswara Rao also directed Khan to file for regular bail within two weeks and asked the trial court to decide it on merits without being influenced by any of the observations of the top court.
The apex court said the interim bail will operate till the competent court decides on the application for regular bail.
''This is a fit case to exercise the powers under Article 142 of the Constitution and grant interim bail to the petitioner,'' the bench, also comprising Justices B R Gavai and A S Bopanna, said.
Khan is presently lodged in Sitapur jail in connection with several cases, including that of land grabbing, against him in Rampur. Article 142 of the Constitution deals with the Supreme Court's power to exercise its jurisdiction and pass the order for doing complete justice in any cause or matter pending before it.
The Uttar Pradesh government had earlier opposed Khan's bail plea and termed him as a ''land grabber'' and a ''habitual offender''.
Additional Solicitor General S V Raju, appearing for the Uttar Pradesh government, had told the apex court that he had allegedly threatened the investigating officer in the land grabbing case.
The apex court on May 17 had reserved its order after hearing the parties.
The top court had earlier expressed displeasure over the delay in hearing the bail application of Khan, saying this is a travesty of justice.
The Allahabad High Court on May 5 had reserved its order on the bail application of Khan in the case of grabbing enemy property for his Mohammad Ali Jauhar University project.
An FIR was lodged against Khan and others for alleged grabbing of enemy property and misappropriation of public money of more than hundreds of crores of rupees.
It was alleged in the FIR that during Partition one Imamuddin Qureshi went to Pakistan and his land was recorded as enemy property, but Khan in collusion with others grabbed the plot.
The FIR was lodged at the Azem Nagar police station in Rampur under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act.
Earlier, the apex court in February had refused interim bail to Khan for campaigning in the Uttar Pradesh elections and asked him to approach the court concerned for expeditious disposal.
The plea filed by Khan had contended that the State has adopted all means available to purposefully delay the proceedings to ensure that he is incarcerated during the recently held Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections.