In a major reprieve for the Lok Janshakti Party ahead of the crucial trust vote in the Lok Sabha, jailed party MP Suraj Singh alias Surajbhan Singh was on Wednesday granted bail by the Patna High Court in connection with a murder case.
Union Minister Ramvilas Paswan heads the LJP, a constituent of the ruling UPA, which is facing a tough challenge in mustering a majority in the Lok Sabha after withdrawal of the Left from the government.
Surajbhajan Singh was granted bail by a Division Bench comprising Justice Shivkirti Singh and Justice Abhijit Sinha who rejected a stiff opposition from the prosecution.
Prosecution counsel Shyamseshar Dayal argued that two of the witnesses in the Rami Singh murder case, in which a fast track court had sentenced Surajbhan to life imprisonment on June 25, had deposed during the trial that he had personally shot the deceased in the temple.
"The MP has criminal antecedents," Dayal said opposing the bail.
Surajbhan's lawyer Rana Pratap Singh, however, rebutted the charge and said the injury report in the case maintained that the deceased was shot in the back of his head. "No evidence of the MP's direct involvement in the murder exists," he contended.
The "don"-turned-MP and two of his associates were sentenced to life by Begusarai Fast Track court Judge RP Dubey for the murder of farmer Rami Singh over 16 years ago.
Surajbhan and others were charged with having gunned down Rami Singh at Madhurapur-Purvatola under Teghra police station of Begusarai district on January 16, 1992.
The victim was suspected to have been involved in the killing of Ramadhar Singh, an associate of Surajbhan, over a land dispute.