SC wants Shahabuddin shifted from Siwan prison to Tihar jail

Ruling that the principle of free and fair trial does not only protect the rights of the accused but also ensures that the faith of victims in the justice delivery system is vindicated, the Supreme Court on Wednesday directed that RJD leader Mohammad Shahabuddin be shifted from Siwan jail in Bihar to Delhi's Tihar Jail in the "interest of the collective and social order".

Ordering to conduct the trial through video conferencing, a SC bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra said no special treatment is to be given to the the gangster-turned politician.

42-year-old Rajdeo Ranjan, the bureau chief of The Hindustan, was shot dead in July last year at Phal Mandi near the Siwan Railway Station, barely half-a-kilometre from the police station. Senior Advocate Shekhar Naphade has been defending Shahabuddin. "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", said the court, adding that an accused can not be permitted to jettison the fundamentals of a trial in the name of fair trial. Both said the accused continued to run a "parallel administration of fear" from the jail in Siwan.

Shahabuddin, once considered a close aide of RJD chief Lalu Prasad, is facing trial in over 45 criminal cases, including of murder and kidnapping.

Read the judgment below. Later, on June 16, 2015, Rajeev Roushan, who was the sole witness of his brothers' murder, was also killed in Siwan just three days before he was to depose before a court.

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Directing to hold trial in all cases against Shahabuddin through video-conferencing, the bench said, "This is not a normal and usual case". It has to be dealt with in the aforesaid factual matrix.

"When there is threat to life, liberty and fear pervades, it sends shivers in the spine and corrodes the basic marrows of holding of the trial at Siwan". This is quite far from the idea of fair trial.

"After God, we have our hopes pinned on the apex court for justice", they said.

Asha Ranjan has termed the apex court order a victory for her. Around 45-odd criminal cases are pending against the four-time MP. "It is the obligation and duty of this Court to ensure free and fair trial", it said.

After stepping out of Bhagalpur jail on September 10 following the bail granted by the Patna high court, Shahabuddin had mentioned Nitish as the "CM of circumstances" and not by people's support.

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