The Supreme Court deferred on Monday the hearing of petitions seeking cancellation of RJD strongman Mohammad Shahabuddin’s bail till Wednesday.
The petitions were filed by the Bihar government and an old couple whose three sons were allegedly murdered by Shahabuddin.
A bench comprising Justice PC Ghose and Justice Amitava Roy posted the hearing for September 28, as noted criminal lawyer Ram Jethmalani, representing Shahabuddin, was not available.
“Since there are allegations and counter allegations being made in the case, we shall not pass any order without hearing both the sides. We are fixing it on Wednesday,” the bench said.
Senior advocate Shekhar Naphade, also appearing for Shahabuddin, said his client was put through a media trial and should be given adequate opportunity to present his case.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, who appeared on behalf of Chandrakeshwar Prasad of Siwan -- whose three sons were allegedly murdered at the behest of Shahabuddin -- sought an urgent hearing of the case.
He contended that Shahabuddin has a total of 45 cases registered against him, out of which nine are on murder charges. Bhushan said Shahabuddin has been convicted in 10 cases registered against him.
The top court had on September 19 asked Shahabuddin to respond to two petitions -- one each filed by Bihar government and the victims’ father --- challenging a Patna high court order that granted him bail in a murder case.
Another petition by the wife of a journalist allegedly killed at the behest of Shahabuddin demanded transferring of the case outside Bihar. This case, however, was not listed for Monday.
Bihar government’s counsel Gopal Singh had, on September 19, urged the court to issue non-bailable warrant against Shahabuddin and demanded his presence at the court in the next hearing, but the bench has restrained from passing any such order. It said: “We intend to give him (Shahabuddin) a hearing too.”
Singh was critical of the HC judge who ruled in Shahabuddin’s favour and argued that the same judge had in February this year rejected his bail petition. “Under the law and SC judgment, he should have examined the fresh plea on merits,” Singh submitted before the bench.
Bhushan had said the former RJD parliamentarian is a known “notorious criminal” and it was shocking to see the casual manner in which the high court had granted him bail.
The RJD leader was released on bail on September 9 after spending eleven years in prison. The high court gave him bail in the murder case of Rajiv Roshan, Prasad’s son and the sole eye-witness to the cold-blooded murder of his two younger brothers in Siwan in 2004.
Prasad was killed in 2014, and Shahabuddin has been declared guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment in the 2004 twin murder case.
The reasoning given by the HC was that the trial in Roshan murder case had not begun and was unlikely to commence because Shahabuddin was lodged in the Bhagalpur jail.
Terming Shahabuddin as a “class-A history sheeter who cannot be reformed,” Bhushan read out old SC judgements to highlight how the high court had ignored the fact that criminal antecedent of an offender should be considered while granting bail.
Singh said the the Roshan murder case was not a routine incident but was the killing of a “star eye-witness” to a gruesome crime. Bhushan said enlargement of Shahabuddin on bail had spread fear among those who are witnesses in the cases pending against him. “He should be ideally lodged outside Bihar,” the counsel said.