Jailed Shahabuddin allowed voting in presidential poll


New Delhi : The Supreme Court Wednesday granted permission to jailed Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) MP Mohammed Shahabuddin to cast his vote in the presidential poll Thursday.

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Acceding to an urgent plea made by Shahabuddin, lodged in the district jail of Siwan in Bihar, a bench headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan directed the district and jail authorities to escort him in custody to the Bihar assembly in Patna to enable him cast his vote in the election.

The bench, also comprising Justice R.V. Raveendran and Justice Dalveer Bhandari, directed the Election Commission to make arrangements for the jailed MP to exercise his franchise at Patna.

The court order followed a plea made Shahabuddin's counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi who said that Shahabuddin was denied his rights even as another jailed RJD MP, Pappu Yadav, was given parole by the Delhi High Court and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha MP Shibu Soren was granted the same by the Jharkhand High Court.

Shahabuddin's plea came for an unscheduled hearing amid adjudication of another public interest lawsuit, questioning the right of jailed MPs and legislators to cast vote in presidential elections.

The public suit was filed Tuesday by advocate 'Goodwill' Indeevar, who had contended that Section 62(5) the Representation of the People Act, 1951 and a 1984 judgement of the Supreme Court on the related issue together divest the jailed MPs and MLAs of their right to cast votes.

The bench had slated it for hearing Wednesday. But it adjourned the hearing of the petition observing that there was a difference between the voting rights of individual members of society in general election and those of an elected representative as member of an electoral college to choose the president or the vice-president.

"We are not dismissing your petition," said the chief justice, adding that it would come up for hearing later.