File image of Mohammed Shahabuddin. (Image: AFP)
New Delhi: The Supreme Court has ordered Bihar’s don-politician Mohammed Shahabuddin to be shifted to Delhi’s Tihar jail from Siwan where he is currently imprisoned for multiple crimes including murder.
The apex court move came in response to a petition filed by Asha Ranjan, widow of slain journalist Rajdev Ranjan. She had approached the SC last year saying that Shahabuddin should be moved out of Bihar because he is an influential person and would be able to influence the witnesses in the Rajdeo Ranjan murder case.
The trial in the Rajdeo Ranjan case will now take place by video conference.
The journalist was shot dead on May 13, 2016, in a busy market place near Station Road in Siwan district of Bihar. There was a public outrage after the two main accused in the case, Mohammad Kaif and Mohammad Javed, were spotted with Shahabuddin when he walked out on bail.
Shahabuddin, facing criminal charges in around 50 cases, including political murders of former JNUSU chairperson Chandrashekhar Prasad and CPI(ML) activist Chhote Lal Gupta, had been lodged in Bhagalpur prison for over a decade until the Patna High Court granted him bail on September 7.
But his bail was cancelled within days by the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court decision to cancel the bail came on the petition, among others, of senior advocate Prashant Bhushan who had argued before the apex court that Shahabuddin did not follow any rules and walked out of jail at will. Bhushan sought cancellation Shahabuddin's bail on the ground that if he is released on bail, then the life of the last witness, who is to testify in a case, would be in danger.
Before his arrest in 2005, Shahabuddin was a Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) MP representing Siwan consecutively for four times from 1996 to 2009. For many, he symbolized the collapse of law and order during the RJD era in Patna, and his release had brought back fears of the state plunging into what Opposition called ‘Jungle Raj’.
Immediately upon his release, Shahabuddin had sparked a political row when he said not the Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar – who had sent him to jail in 2005 – but RJD leader Laloo was his leader.