Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered shifting of controversial RJD leader Mohammad Shahabuddin, now facing trial in 45 criminal cases, from Siwan Jail in Bihar to Tihar Jail in New Delhi within a week, saying an accused cannot be allowed to “jettison the basic fundamentals of trial”.
The apex court referred to the criminal history of Shahabuddin and said “till today, he has been booked in 75 cases, out of which he had been convicted in 10 cases and presently facing trial in 45 cases” and the facts showed that “this is not a normal and usual case”.
“We direct the state of Bihar to transfer the third respondent, M Shahabuddin, from Siwan Jail, District Siwan to Tihar Jail, Delhi and hand over the prisoner to the competent officer of Tihar Jail after giving prior intimation for his transfer in Delhi.
“Needless to say, that the authorities escorting the third respondent from Siwan Jail to Tihar Jail would strictly follow the rules applicable to the transit prisoners and no special privilege shall be extended. The transfer shall take place within a week hence,” a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Amitava Roy said.
In a related development, the apex court also decided to examine a plea seeking lodging of FIR against RJD supremo Lalu Prasad’s son and Bihar Health Minister Tej Pratap Yadav, whose photograph was published in the media with an alleged sharp shooter close to Shahabuddin.
The verdict came on separate pleas filed by Asha Ranjan, the widow of slain Siwan-based journalist Rajdeo Ranjan, and Chandrakeshwar Prasad, whose three sons were killed in two separate incidents. They had sought shifting of the RJD strongman from Siwan jail to Tihar prison here.
The court did the balancing act between the individual right of an accused to fair trial with the right of the society and preservation of the justice delivery system.
“A fair trial is not what the accused wants in the name of fair trial. Fair trial must soothe the ultimate justice which is sought individually, but is subservient and would not prevail when fair trial requires transfer of the criminal proceedings,” the bench, in its 87-page verdict, said.
It said the trial in pending cases against Shahabuddin “shall be conducted by video conferencing by the concerned trial court.
“The competent authority in Tihar Jail and the competent authority of the State of Bihar shall make all essential arrangements so that the accused and the witnesses would be available for the purpose of trial through video conferencing.”