Bihar backs shifting of Shahabuddin to Delhi’s Tihar Jail

New Delhi, Nov 29 (IANS) The Bihar government on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that it was not averse to the shifting of RJD strongman Mohammed Shahabuddin from Siwan district jail to Tihar Jail in Delhi or the transfer of trial in 45 cases he faces.

Telling the bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Amitava Roy that there were 75 cases against the criminal turned politician, counsel for the Bihar governmentsaid that Shahabuddin was convicted in 10 cases Shahabuddin, acquitted in 20 and in remaining 45 cases, the trial is on hold at present.

Counsel told the court that there were about 500 witnesses in 45 cases where trials were put on hold, as Bihar government has challenged a lower court order granting him legal assistance.

Shahabuddin was granted legal assistance on his plea that he had no money to engage lawyers. This order of the lower court was challenged by the Bihar government which has contended that RJD strongman faced no paucity of resources to engage lawyers.

Backing the position taken by Bihar government, senior counsel Dushyant Dave named the eminent lawyers who had appeared for Shahabuddin in the past. Dave appeared for Chandrakeshwar Prasad whose three sons were killed allegedly by the henchmen of Shahabuddin.

However, the bench asked why the plea for legal assistance by Shahabuddin was being opposed by the state government.

Senior counsel Shekhar Naphade, appearing for Shahabuddin, told the court that his client was in jail for last 11 years and if trial in 45 cases was shifted to Delhi, then it would take 20 years for then to conclude. He cited the figure of 500 witnesses mentioned by the Bihar government’s lawyers.

Advocate Rohit Singh also appearing for Chandrakeshwar Prasad cited the earlier judgment of the top court in Pappu Yadav case in support of his plea for the shifting of Shahabuddin to Delhi including the trial in 45 cases.

The court had on Monday said that “this is the situation which is the test case of our criminal jurisprudence in context of witnesses protection and the concept of fair trial”.

The top court had on October 24 issued notice to Shahabuddin on the plea by Prasad and Asha Ranjan, widow of a journalist allegedly killed on Shahabuddin’s orders, seeking his transfer from Siwan jail to Tihar Jail in Delhi and holding of his trial through video-conferencing.

Reversing the Patna High Court’s September 7 order granting him bail, the top court had on September 30 had ordered Shahabuddin back to jail in the Rajiv Roshan murder case as it pointed to the need for balancing the consideration of individual liberty of the accused with that of societal interest.

Hearing will continue on Wednesday.

–IANS

pk/vd

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