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Wednesday, December 08, 2021

Prabhunath, the one who was let off five times

CITING lack of evidence against him, Patna courts have acquitted controversial JD(U) leader Prabhunath Singh in five cases of murder or attempt to murder, lodged against him between 1991 and 1995, raising troubling questions about the “efficacy” of the police and prosecution.

Written by Santosh Singh | Patna |
December 25, 2008 11:44:08 pm

CITING lack of evidence against him, Patna courts have acquitted controversial JD(U) leader Prabhunath Singh in five cases of murder or attempt to murder, lodged against him between 1991 and 1995, raising troubling questions about the “efficacy” of the police and prosecution.

While state Director General of Police D N Gautam insisted that there was “no laxity” on the part of the police, he searched for an answer when asked if the non-appearance of the two investigating officers in the case “resulted in failure of corroboration of evidence”. N N Thakur, who filed the FIR and Badri Ram, who submitted the chargesheet against Prabhunath, stayed away from the trial despite warrants against them. Gautam added that it was up to the state Government to decide on challenging the verdicts in the high court.

However, Bihar Advocate General P K Sahi said the Government was yet to go through the texts of the judgements. “We will speak to the lawyers concerned. As of now, we cannot commit if the Government will challenge the verdicts,” he said.

Although JD(U) leaders have rallied in support of Prabhunath and have said that the court’s decision should be respected, the Opposition, especially the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), has made no secret of its scepticism and is demanding that the verdicts be challenged. State RJD president Abdul Bari Siddiqui said, “What can we say about five acquittals in a row? This should be addressed in court.”

On October 24, a Patna fast-track court acquitted Prabhunath Singh and six others in a double murder case in which brothers Daroga Roy and Rajendra Roy were killed in an election booth firing at Mashrakh (Chhapra) in March 1995. It was alleged that victims had not voted in the Assembly elections as per Prabhunath Singh’s “diktat”.

Lalmuni Devi, the mother of victims and a key witness, was so shocked after the verdict that she threatened immolation outside Patna High Court. It was a different thing that Chhapra police did not allow her to reach Patna. “I have no hope of justice. Even the dying declaration of my son Rajendra was not enough to get us justice,” she said.

The high-profile case had to be transferred from Chhapra to Hazaribagh to Bhagalpur to Patna courts before it was disposed of by the fast-track court. During the trial, there were allegations that Prabhunath had threatened witnesses.

The JD(U) leader, who enjoys

a fair amount of clout in the party, got a further reprieve when Patna fast-track court judge Manmohan Choudhary acquitted three of Prabhunath Singh’s supporters in the 1994 case.

Although Prabhunath Singh was not available for comments, his lawyer Vindhyachal Singh said, “Our client just has one case pending at Hazaribagh”.

Incidentally, the fast-track court has so far convicted sitting MPs Pappu Yadav (for life in the Ajit Sarkar case), Mohammed Shahabuddin (for imprisonment for four cases) and JD(U) leader Anand Mohan (life sentence in the G Krishnaih lynching case).

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