The Supreme Court today ordered an ad-interim stay on the Allahabad High Court's verdict convicting former Uttar Pradesh MLA Mukhtar Ansari of threatening a jailer with a pistol in hand and sentencing him to seven years in jail.

A bench of Justice BR Gavai and Justice Vikram Nath also issued notice to the Uttar Pradesh government on an application moved by gangster-politician Ansari seeking a stay of the High Court's order.

Justice Gavai told Additional Advocate general Garima Prashad, appearing for the state government, that nowhere did the High Court verdict say the trial court order acquitting Ansari was perverse in law.

"It is a settled law that while interfering with the acquittal order of the trial court the appellate court has to hold that the lower court's verdict is perverse in law. We don't find this in the High Court's verdict," Justice Gavai said.

Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Ansari, said neither the complainant nor any of the witnesses confirmed the incident but the High Court interfered with the trial court's acquittal order, and convicted and sentenced him for the alleged crime.

The bench said it would like to go through the response of the state government to Ansari's plea and only then it will pass a final order.

Ansari, a gangster-politician, has challenged the September 21, last year order of the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court by which it had set aside the order of the trial court.

The High Court had found Ansari guilty under sections 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of duty), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace), and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Ansari was elected MLA from Mau constituency in six successive elections including twice on Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) ticket.

The high court had sentenced the former MLA to two years of rigorous imprisonment and fined him Rs 10,000 for offences under Section 353 and two years in jail and a fine of Rs 2,000 for offences under Section 504. The court had also sentenced Ansari to seven years in prison and imposed a fine of Rs 25,000 for offences under Section 506.

The case dates to 2003 when Lucknow district prison jailer SK Awasthi lodged an FIR with Alambagh police alleging he was threatened for ordering frisking of people who came to meet Ansari.

Awasthi also alleged that Ansari had pointed a pistol at him and abused him. A trial court had acquitted Ansari in the case but the government filed an appeal.

The former lawmaker, who wields considerable influence in eastern Uttar Pradesh, is currently lodged in Banda jail. The High Court, while convicting Ansari had noted he has the reputation of a dreaded criminal and mafia don, who has more than 60 cases of heinous offences registered against him.

With PTI inputs