SC reserves order on pleas to cancel Shahahbuddin’s bail
The issue whether controversial RJD leader Shahabuddin would remain free or go back to jail will be decided on Friday with the Supreme Court on Thursday reserving its verdict on two appeals challenging the grant of bail to him by the Patna High Court in a murder case.
The apex court also rebuked Nitish Kumar-led Bihar government, which has RJD as its coalition partner, for its lax approach in opposing bail granted to the RJD strongman in various cases at different judicial forums including the High Court.
Bihar government, which drew flak from the court since the beginning of the hearing on appeals, was on Thursday again questioned for not providing a copy of the charge sheet to him for 17 months in the murder case of Rajiv Roshan.
Roshan, the eye witness to the gruesome killings of two of his younger siblings, was also killed few days before his proposed testimony in the murder case of his brothers.
A bench comprising Justices P C Ghose and Amitava Roy, which heard the parties for nearly three days, referred to the trial court records and said it cannot simply go by “inferences” drawn from various happenings in lower courts, as the order sheets revealed that police records were not provided to the accused.
“We have to act as per records. We have an onerous duty to perform. What kind of prosecution is this that for one-and-half years the trial court kept on saying: provide the police records. You (Government) can’t say the prosecution has no role in the proceedings. It can’t be a one-sided affair,” the bench said.
Lawyer Prashant Bhushan, appearing for Siwan-based Chandrakeshwar Prasad who lost his three sons in two separate crimes, vehemently opposed the contention of Shahabuddin that he was not provided the case records including chargesheet for 17 months after it was filed in the trial court.
“It is a cock-and-bull story which has been told in the Supreme Court for first time, that too orally without any affidavit,” Bhushan said adding that Shahabuddin had challenged the trial court order taking cognizance of the offence in the sessions court.
There was not “even a whisper” that Shahabuddin was not supplied with the copy of chargesheet, he said.
Bhushan also mentioned that the revision plea of the RJD leader had details of the chargesheet and hence, the plea of non-supply of records was “unsustainable and cannot be taken note of”.
He cited the High Court order by which his bail plea was dismissed in February this year and said that too recorded the submission of Shahabuddin having details of the chargehsheet.
“This makes crystal clear that Shahabuddin had the chargesheet and the case diary or else how can he cites the paragraphs of the chargesheet,” Bhushan said. Senior advocate Shekhar Naphade, appearing for the controversial leader, said there was concerted efforts to delay the trial and for that reason, the chargesheet was not provided to him.
Moreover, the prosecution did not have evidence to prove Shahabuddin’s involvement in the conspiracy to murder, he said. “This is perversity writ large. The charge is that I was involved in the killing of Rajiv Roshan but how can I do that when evidence suggests that I was in judicial custody,” Naphade said.
He said it is for the Bihar government to specify its stand on the allegation that an undertrial prisoner went out of jail and took part in the killing.
The senior advocate further alleged that shifting Shahabuddin to Bhagalpur jail from Siwan was another effort to delay the trial and said the administrative order to transfer him was “illegal”, “void” and “contrary to law”.
“I have the fundamental right to have speedy trial but by shifting me to another jail, they had made concerted efforts to delay it,” he said.
“We in Bihar know how to follow law and also know how not to follow the law,” Naphade said while taking a pot shot at Bihar government.
Naphade said there was “much more than what meets the eye” and claimed concerted efforts have been made from the start to delay the trial and that was why “I was shifted to Bhagalpur by an administrative order which was ‘void’”.