Shift Shahabuddin to Tihar from Siwan jail: Supreme Court to Bihar government

The Supreme Court today ordered the transfer of Rashtriya Janata Dal strongman Mohammad Shahabuddin from Siwan Jail to the high-security Tihar Jail in the national capital.

SC added that trial in pending cases against Shahabuddin in Bihar would be conducted through video conferencing from Tihar jail. The SC order came on the petition filed by Asha Ranjan, wife of slain journalist Rajdeo Ranjan.

"An accused who has been able to, by his sheer presence, erode the idea of safety of a witness in court or for that matter impairs the faith of a victim in the ultimate justice and such erosion is due to fear psychosis prevalent in the atmosphere of trial, is not to be countenanced as it is an unconscionable situation", the bench said.

Dealing with the right to fair trial as enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution, the bench said it was the duty of the constitutional court to weigh and strike a balance between the individual and societal rights.

"A wrongful act of an individual can not derogate the right of fair trial as that interest is closer, especially in criminal trials, to the Rule of Law".

In its order, the court said that no preferential treatment should be given to the gangster turned politician.

He also expressed happiness that at last Siwan will be free from Shahabuddin's terror.

Justice Misra, writing the judgement for the bench, noted that Shahabuddin has been "declared as a history-sheeter type "A", that is, who is beyond reform". It has to be dealt with in the aforesaid factual matrix. "There will be no fear or threat", she said.

Asha Ranjan said, "This order brings a lot of relief to me". Around 45-odd criminal cases are pending against the four-time MP. Of the 45 cases, 15 FIRs, including those of murder, were lodged against him while he was behind bars in Siwan jail.

Asha, a contractual teacher in a government-run school in Siwan, said she had appealed to the apex court to shift Shahabuddin from Siwan to Tihar jail a year ago.

Shahabuddin, who was in jail for 11 years was was released by Patna High Court but only to be sent back by the SC.

  • Tracy Ferguson