Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) legislator Akbaruddin Owaisi, who returned to Hyderabad from London early today, has moved Andhra Pradesh High Court seeking quashing of the cases against him in various police stations over his alleged hate speeches.
Hours after seeking four days' time to appear before police in Nirmal town of Adilabad district, Mr Owaisi filed a petition in the high court, seeking orders to strike down cases booked against him at the direction of lower courts.
The petition is likely to come up for hearing in two days.
Earlier, Adilabad police confirmed that the MIM leader, through his lawyers, sought more time on the ground of ill-health. Two lawyers, who reached Nirmal police station on behalf of Mr Owaisi, submitted doctors' report.
Doctors, brought in by the police, are currently examining the legislator at his posh Banjara Hills residence to check the authenticity of the report given by his doctors.
Nirmal police had directed Mr Owaisi to be present at the police station by 10.45 a.m., but his lawyers informed them that the MIM leader was not well. They sought four days' time for Mr Owaisi to join the police for recording his statement over the alleged speech.
According to MIM sources, if the police reject his request, Mr Owaisi may surrender in a court in Hyderabad rather than travel to Nirmal, about 200 km from the state capital.
He is not likely to visit Nirmal since he is unwell and also because the situation in the town is tense following protests by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its frontal organisations. They have called for a shutdown in Nirmal today.
BJP workers took out a rally in Nirmal and tried to lay siege to the police station where Mr Owaisi's lawyer was meeting police officials. Police have arrested some protesters.
In Hyderabad, a team of doctors from the Owaisi Hospital examined the legislator at his residence in the posh Banjara Hills.
Sources in the MIM said that Mr Owaisi, who had gone to London for treatment, cut short his visit and returned in view of the notices served on him by the police.
Mr Owaisi arrived at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Hyderabad around 3 am to a warm welcome by MIM leaders and hundreds of supporters. He later drove to his house.
As the MIM leader faces arrest and the BJP and its frontal organisations continue their protests, police stepped up security in Nirmal town and also in the old city of Hyderabad. Prohibitory orders banning assembly of five or more persons were imposed in Nirmal.
BJP staged protests at various places in Hyderabad, Adilabad, Nizamabad and other districts, demanding immediate arrest of the legislator. The protesters set afire the effigy of the MIM leader.
Police in Nirmal last week booked the 42-year-old MIM leader under Section 121 (waging or attempting to wage war against the state), Section 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, language and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony) and Section 295A (for deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings or any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) under the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
The Nizamabad police, who too booked Mr Owaisi under Section 153A and 295A of the IPC, have also directed him to appear before them on January 8 for questioning over a speech he made in the town.
The Osmania University police in Hyderabad have also slapped a case against him at the directions of a city court, and summoned the legislator on January 10.
BJP's senior leader Ch. Vidyasagar alleged that the government had failed to arrest Mr Owaisi. He demanded that he be disqualified as a member of the state assembly and his elder brother Asaduddin Owaisi as a Member of Parliament.
In another development, the ethics committee of the state assembly at its meeting today decided to recommend to the assembly speaker to initiate action against Mr Owaisi for his provocative speeches.
The ethics committee decided to take up the issue in the next session of the state assembly.
Meanwhile, MIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi said now that his brother was back in Hyderabad, he would appear before the appropriate authority. "We will face the case legally and we are not going to run away," he told a meeting at the MIM headquarters.
Asaduddin Owaisi alleged that the ruling Congress and BJP had joined hands to target Akbaruddin Owaisi and MIM.