Every time Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is on the backfoot on the law and order front or overall governance deficit, he goes back to his pet sentence “kanoon apna kaam kar raha hai (law is following its course)”.
He says this more often when he is facing tough media questions outside Bihar. But he does not look convincing with his evasive and ambiguous one-liner after the Mohammed Shahabuddin episode that has not only sullied his government’s image but had also created a lot of problems within the Grand Alliance until Lalu Prasad doused the fires by expressing faith in Nitish Kumar’s leadership.
On a day when Prashant Bhushan filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against the bail Shahabuddin, we look at how “law did not take its course” in Mohammed Shahabuddin’s case.
While there has been a furore over the Nitish Kumar government not starting trial in the June 2014 Rajiv Roshan murder trial despite the Patna High Court directing the government to do so in February this year, people here wonder why the state government did not challenge Shahabuddin’s bail granted by the High Court in March.
Why did the state government not make any attempt to vacate the stay in the trial of about 30 cases in the High Court that had passed the stay order on Shahabuddin’s plea on his inability to hire a lawyer because of his “poor financial condition”? The state government’s laxity is exposed when one remembers that the Supreme Court had to set up the trial within the Siwan jail premises. The speedy trial ensured his conviction in as many as eight cases.
Not starting the trial in the Rajiv Roshan case gave strong grounds for Shahabuddin’s lawyer to plead that since there has been no pending trial, there was adequate reason to grant Shahabuddin bail. The state government knew only too well that Rajiv Roshan was the only case in which the absence of bail had been keeping the former RJD MP in prison. Yet, there wad no urgency on part of the government to start the trial.
Even now, there has been no word from the government challenging the bail before the Supreme Court. Rather, it wants to piggyback on Prashant Bhushan, who has challenged the bail on behalf of Roshan’s father Chanda Babu. The government hopes the Supreme Court denies Shahabuddin bail on Bhushan’s plea and its “purpose” is served by proxy. This is how the law has been taking its course in Bihar these days.