HC suggests Shahbuddin meet family in Delhi as govt, Bihar Police give no safety assurance

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New Delhi, Nov 3 (PTI) As Delhi government and Bihar Police have shown reluctance in giving safety assurance for Mohammad Shahbuddin, jailed former MP who wanted to go to Siwan from Tihar jail, the Delhi High Court Tuesday suggested that the gangster-turned politician call his family here to meet him.

The former Rashtriya Janta Dal (RJD) leader was shifted to Tihar jail in 2018 by the Supreme Court from Siwan jail in Bihar.

Shahbuddin, who is serving life sentence in a murder case, has sought custody parole to go to Siwan on the ground that his father passed away on September 19 and he wishes to spend time with his grieving mother who is unwell.

He said he wants to offer prayers at his father's grave and meet other family members.

The counsel for Delhi and Bihar governments addressed Justice A J Bhambhani on the requirements and logistics needed for ensuring the safety of Shahbuddin, even if he were to be granted custody parole.

Additional standing counsel of Delhi government Sanjay Lao said Delhi Police cannot be held responsible for safety and security of the prisoner in Bihar.

He said it would be difficult to take him to Bihar as a full police battalion is required to go with him and due to the COVID-19 pandemic, even trains are not running normally.

Advocate Keshav Mohan, representing Bihar, said Shahbuddin is lodged in Tihar Jail in Delhi which should ensure his safety if released on custody parole.

He also said he would file a fresh affidavit explaining the arrangements required to be done in case the relief is granted.

During the hearing, Justice Bhambhani observed that the court can consider granting custody parole to the prisoner in a situation like bereavement in family but the issue here is that “both Bihar and Delhi government are not able to give me surety that they will be able to guard you (Shahbuddin)”.

“They are reluctant in giving surety that he will be safe in their custody. The element of threat is the same whether you go for 6 hours in custody parole or more. Why can’t your family come to Delhi and meet you. You will be given a separate place in Delhi where you can meet your family,” the court said.

It added that if the court considers granting him custody parole, it will be not for travelling to Bihar and he can choose a place in Delhi to meet his family.

To this, senior advocate Salman Khurshid, representing Shahbuddin, said let the Bihar government say it in an affidavit that they cannot look after him and cannot protect him, he will then consider the alternative suggested by the court.

Shahbuddin was declared a history-sheeter Type A, or one who is beyond reform and has been a member of the Legislative Assembly on two occasions and a Member of Parliament four times.

The apex court on February 15, 2018 had ordered shifting of Shahabuddin, now facing trial in over three dozen criminal cases, from Siwan Jail in Bihar to Tihar.

The top court’s order had come on a plea filed by Asha Ranjan, the widow of slain Siwan-based journalist Rajdeo Ranjan, and Chandrakeshwar Prasad, whose three sons were killed in separate incidents by the gangster.

The top court had on October 30, last year upheld the conviction and sentence of Shahabuddin and three others in a 2004 double murder case in which two brothers were killed for not paying extortion money.

Satish and Girish Roshan were murdered in August 2004 in Siwan for refusing to pay extortion money.

A third brother, Rajiv Roshan, who was an eyewitness to the incident in which Shahabuddin's men allegedly threw acid to kill the two brothers, was shot dead on June 6, 2014.

Roshan was killed when he was going to depose against Shahabuddin in the trial court despite threats from the don and his henchmen.

On December 9, 2015, a special judge at Siwan had convicted Shahabuddin and his associates for the murders and sentenced them to life imprisonment.

On August 30, 2018, the Patna high court had upheld their conviction and sentence. PTI SKV HMP SA