Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) MP Ram Jethmalani will fight the case of dreaded RJD strongman Mohammad Shahabuddin in the Supreme Court, media reports said today. While the Bihar government has moved the apex court for the cancellation of the bail granted to the convicted former don, it seems that RJD boss Lalu Yadav has assigned the task of keeping Shahabuddin out on bail to Jethmalani, who is considered to be one of the best criminal lawyers in the country. Ironically, RJD is a part of the ‘Mahagathbandhan’ (grand alliance) government in Bihar led by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
Jethmalani was recently elected to the Rajya Sabha on RJD ticket. In past, he had also fought cased of RJD chief Lalu Yadav, who is a convict in the fodder scam. Shahabuddin was released on bail on September 7 after 11 years as the Bihar government failed to provide sufficient evidence to keep the dreaded gangster in jail.
Soon after coming out of the jail, Shahabuddin launched an attack on Nitish, calling him a circumstantial CM, and embarked on an over 250-km journey from the jail in Bhagalpur to Siwan followed by a cavalcade of about 400 vehicles. Also called locally as the ‘Saheb’ of Siwan, Shahabuddin’s release reportedly gripped the district in fear so much that even the Additional District and Sessions Judge of Siwan Ajay Kumar Srivastava, who had awarded life imprisonment to Shahabuddin in a murder case, sought an immediate transfer from the district.
Quoting sources close to the judge, PTI had, however, reported that Srivastava had sought the transfer for family reasons and not because of any threat.
Shahabuddin’s attack on Nitish Kumar after release caused a lot of embarrassment to the Bihar CM. In a bid to save face, the state government decided to move the SC for the cancellation of the bail. However, the state government’s decision came only after senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan had announced he will represent Chandeshwar Prasad, who had lost his three sons allegedly at the behest of Shahabuddin. Both Bihar government and Bhushan are now separately fighting against the bail to Shahabuddin. The SC would take up the case on September 26.
Meanwhile, Opposition leaders have questioned Nitish’s control over the government as an MP of the grand alliance partner RJD would be defending the dreaded strongman. BJP leader from the state Sushil Kumar Modi has alleged that Kumar failed to appoint a “strong” lawyer to counter Jethmalani in the Apex Court.
In the first hearing of the cases against bail to Shahabuddin on Monday last, Bhushan had told the apex court: “As per the affidavit filed by Bihar government in 2014 in another case, there are 58 criminal cases pending against Shahabuddin and out of them he has been convicted in eight cases. In two of the cases, he was awarded life sentence by a trial court.”
Shahabuddin was granted bail recently by the Patna HC in the murder case of Rajiv Roshan, Prasad’s son who was the sole eye-witness to the cold-blooded murder of his two younger brothers in Siwan. The RJD leader has already been convicted and awarded life imprisonment in the twin murder case, while the trial in the Roshan murder case is yet to commence.
(with PTI inputs)