FORMER SIWAN MP Mohammed Shahabuddin owes his bail to the fact that the Siwan police had failed to start his trial in the Rajiv Ranjan murder case of 2014. Additionally, the police did not try an option that they had used successfully to win an order earlier – the Crime Control Act, which might have helped them hold him back in jail on the ground that he could influence the trial.
The failure to hold him back has brought the government under attack from the Opposition for allegedly facilitating former RJD MP’s bail. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has said that just as Shahabuddin’s long stint in jail had been part of judicial process, so has his bail. Rajiv Roshan, whose murder is at the centre of the case, had been killed in Siwan in June 2014 but the Siwan police have not started trial in the over two years since. It was only the absence of bail in this case that had been keeping Shahabuddin in jail.
Rajiv was the eldest of three brothers murdered. In what has come to be known as the acid murder case, his younger brothers Girish and Satish were murdered earlier, with Rajiv the only witness. Shahabuddin was awarded a life sentence in that case in December 2015 and later went into appeal in High Court. On February 3, while rejecting Shahabuddin’s bail plea, Patna High Court had directed the Siwan court: “The learned magistrate is directed to expedite the commitment of the case and thereafter the learned trial judge shall take all positive steps to conclude the trial as early as possible, preferably within nine months after receipt of records in the sessions courts.”
On May 20, 2016, Shahabuddin was transferred to Bhagalpur jail. And on September 7, Patna High Court granted him bail citing lack of progress in the Rajiv Roshan murder case: “Finding no progress in the trial and further considering the period of detention, the petition, above mentioned [Shahabuddin] is directed to be released on bail…”
Even after his bail in the Rajiv Roshan case, the government had — and still has — the option to impose the Crime Control Act (CCA) on him to hold him back in prison on the ground that he could influence the trial. Had it done so, it would not have been the first time the government has cited Shahabuddin’s long crime diary to back up an argument. In 2010, the government had cited Shahabuddin’s record in a counter-affidavit that helped it win a Supreme Court order upholding Patna High Court’s decision to allow trial on the Siwan jail premises. The Siwan district administration had then appealed: “…His physical production in the court during the trial may be a source of menace to public peace and tranquillity besides posing a great threat to internal security…” Sources said the Siwan administration had been in favour of invoking CCA but there has been no word from police headquarters. Siwan police have been on their toes since Shahabuddin got bail.