Facing heat from the Supreme Court over its failure to oppose the release of criminal-turned-politician from jail in 45 criminal cases, the Nitish Kumar government on Wednesday admitted a “shortfall” in dealing with the bail pleas of the RJD strongman as that it was “handicapped”.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday came down heavily on Bihar government for not placing facts before the Patna High Court which granted bail to controversial RJD leader Mohd Shahabuddin in a murder case.
The counsel for Nitish Kumar government, which has RJD as its coalition partner in the state, faced searching questions in the apex court which rebuked it for not being serious in pursuing the case against Shahabuddin.
"Why have you approached the court only after his release? Were you in slumber till he got bail? This is a peculiar case. But the question is this peculiarity has been done at whose instance and who is behind this.
"Why you did not challenge bail granted to Shahabuddin in 45 cases? Why did you realise only when he came out of jail? If everything was fair, why would this case come to us," a bench comprising Justices P C Ghose and Amitava Roy said while clarifying that by peculiarity, it meant negligence.
The observations came after senior advocate Dinesh Dwivedi, appearing for Bihar, sought cancellation of Shahabuddin's bail and said the decision to enlarge the RJD leader was improper as the High Court had ignored the relevant material in the case.
He said the High Court could not have granted him bail unless there was any special reason or any medical urgency. The senior lawyer admitted there were "anomalies" by the state government in the case.
To this, the bench said, "we can understand your difficulty and the only thing we can say is that we understand everything."
Dwivedi said "I admit the anomalies. I am not in any way justifying the actions of the state government. We were handicapped at that time. But my submission is that the relevant material has been ignored in the case."
The bench then asked him "Why should you be handicapped? You are the state. It was the duty of your lawyer to inform the High Court about the correct facts of the case. It was your duty to inform the High Court that a revision petition has been filed in the session court by Shahabuddin. Why didn't you tell the High Court at that point of time?
Dwivedi said Shahabuddin was first sent to jail in 2005 and since then he has been committing crimes from inside the prison. He said the RJD leader was acquitted in most of the cases as many witnesses refused to testify against him.
"Shahabuddin's remaining in jail has hardly made a difference as he has been committing crimes from inside the jail premises as well. And this is the reason that he was shifted to Bhagalpur from Siwan jail," he said.
(With PTI inputs)