The Supreme Court on Wednesday blasted the Bihar government for being in “slumber” when gangster-turned-politician RJD leader Mohammad Shahabuddin received bail in 45 criminal cases, and asked it to explain why the decision was not challenged at that time.
“Why have you approached this court only after his release? Were you in slumber till he got bail? This is a peculiar case. But the question is, this peculiarity has been done at whose instance and who is behind this?” a bench of Justice PC Ghose and Justice AK Roy asked senior advocate Dinesh Dwivedi, the Bihar government’s counsel.
The court posed these questions while Dwivedi was presenting his arguments for setting aside a Patna high court order granting bail to Shahabuddin in a 2014 murder case.
Shahabuddin, who represented Siwan in the Lok Sabha for four successive terms between 1996 and 2008, was imprisoned for more than 10 years over multiple cases. On September 7, he was granted bail by the Patna high court in connection with the murder of a man who witnessed the killing of two brothers in Siwan. The victim’s father has also appealed against the court decision.
Shahabuddin managed to walk out of jail because he had already obtained bail in the other cases pending against him. The state hadn’t bothered to appeal against the previous bail orders because the RJD MP was still incarcerated in connection with the 2014 murder case.
“Why did you not challenge the bail granted to Shahabuddin in 45 cases? Why did realisation dawn upon you only after he came out of jail?” the bench questioned Dwivedi when he tried explaining the state’s position. It also pulled up the government for failing to table various facts relating to the alleged criminal antecedents of Shahabuddin before the high court.
Dwivedi admitted to “anomalies” on the state’s part, but argued there was no special reason or medical urgency for the high court to grant bail. Underlining how the same judge had rejected the accused’s bail plea in February, he said: “I am not justifying any action. But (I submit that) the relevant material has been ignored in the case.”
The bench, however, retorted that the state was “not handicapped”. When Dwivedi contended that the high court had erred in concluding that the Bihar government failed to complete the trial within a fixed time period, it retorted: “You are the state. It was the duty of your lawyer to inform the high court about the correct facts of the case. It was your duty to inform the high court that a revision petition has been filed in the session court by Shahabuddin. Why didn’t you tell the high court at that point of time?”
However, Dwivedi said the state was not to be blamed for the delay. “He (Shahabuddin) had filed a revision before the sessions court against the magistrate’s order, taking cognizance of the chargesheet against him. Although the sessions court rejected his revision petition, the case file was never sent to the magistrate,” he added.
The hearing, which remained inconclusive, will continue on Thursday.