The Supreme Court on Monday took the Bihar government to task for displaying a lack of alertness when RJD leader Mohammad Shahabuddin was released on bail in a murder case, even as it is now showing “extreme urgency” to get the bail order cancelled. The bench said that it was not going to stay the bail order at this point of time.
“Where were you before? Some urgency should have been shown by the state in the High Court too,” said a bench of Justice P C Ghose and Justice Amitava Roy when the state’s counsel argued that the matter regarding the cancellation of Shahabuddin’s bail was extremely urgent and must be heard at once.
“We have gone into the facts of this case. We don’t want to stay the impugned order at this stage. We don’t want to pass any order right now. We will hear all parties and then decide,” said the court even as advocate Prashant Bhushan requested the bench to stay the bail order until the matter is finally heard.
Bhushan is representing the parents of three men killed allegedly by Shahabuddin’s henchmen. He pleaded that a reign of terror prevailed every day as long as Shahabuddin was out of jail.
Monday’s proceedings began with an advocate seeking adjournment on behalf of senior lawyer Ram Jethmalani, who is representing Shahabuddin. The counsel said that Jethmalani would need some time to prepare, especially in view of voluminous records.
While Bhushan sought a stay on the bail order if the matter was to be adjourned, senior lawyer Shekhar Naphade, also representing the four-time RJD MP from Siwan, said that his client was being tried by media and that the records would convince the bench about the correctness of the bail order.
Naphade also pointed out that although the bail was given on September 7 and Shahabuddin was released three days later, nobody moved the top court initially to have his release stayed. “Today I am being tried by media. Let me get you all the records of the case and we will show you why the order was passed,” he said.
Bhushan said there were 45 criminal cases already pending trial against Shahabuddin, but the bench observed that it would not issue any order without hearing both sides.
“We have to balance everything… we will go only by records. Since there are allegations and counter-allegations being made in the case, we shall not pass (an order). We are fixing it on Wednesday (September 28),” said the bench.
Shahabuddin, who was granted bail by the Patna High Court on September 7, was released from Bhagalpur jail on September 10. He was in jail for 11 years in connection with several cases against him.
Observing that it would start with a “clean slate”, the bench had last week sought a reply from Shahabuddin over staying the order of bail to him. Apart from the parents of the three murdered men, the Bihar government has also appealed against the bail order, calling Shahabuddin a “dreaded criminal”, “a terror” and a “menace to society”.