SC to hear plea to transfer Shahabuddin to Delhi jail

New Delhi: The Supreme Court will on Tuesday hear a plea for transferring RJD strongman Mohammad Shahabuddin from Siwan district jail in Bihar to Tihar Central Jail and holding of his trial of the 45 cases he faces in Delhi.

The apex court will also hear a plea for the handing over the cases to the Central Bureau of Investigaion for further investigation.

The bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Amitava Roy said this while senior counsel Shekhar Naphade appearing for Shahabuddin opposed the plea, contending it would adversely affect the visitation rights of Shahabuddin’s relatives.

However, the bench said: “This is the situation which is the test case of our criminal jurisprudence in context of witnesses protection and the concept of fair trial.”

“According to the constitution and law, there has to be a fair trial,” it said.

The observation from the bench came in the course of the hearing of two petitions, one by Chandrakeshwar Prasad whose three sons were killed in two separate incidents by Shahabuddin’s henchmen.

The other is by Asha Ranjan whose journalist husband was allegedly killed at the instance of Shahabuddin for exposing his activities in Siwan jail.

Describing the matters before the court as an “inspired litigation”, Naphade said that his client had repeatedly said that he has been “a victim of political conspiracy”.

As he said that if 45 cases were to be transferred to Delhi for trial, then it would take 20 years for their completion, the court asked why he thought so.

Even Additional Solicitor General P.S.Narasimha wondered how the trial of 45 cases would stretch to over 20 years.

In an attempt to persuade the court that his client faced a ‘media trial’ and wanted the bench to see some photographs, the court observed: “We can’t go into photographs. Why should not cases be shifted to Delhi? CBI investigating (the case) in the State (Bihar) is one thing. The transfer of cases to Delhi is another.”

“The trial can take place in Delhi, CBI will bring witnesses.”

The top court had on October 24 issued notice to Shahabuddin on the plea by Chandrakeshwar Prasad and Asha Ranjan seeking his transfer from Siwan jail to Tihar Jail in Delhi and holding of his trial through video-conferencing.

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.

The court had reversed September 7 order of Patna High Court granting him bail.