Hear Shahabuddin plea before March 30: Apex court to Patna High Court


New Delhi : The Supreme Court Monday asked the Patna High Court to hear before March 30 Rashtriya Janata Dal MP Mohammed Shahabuddin’s plea seeking suspension of his conviction in a case of attempted murder.

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A bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice P. Sathasivam passed the order after Shahabuddin’s counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi explained that the plea was pending before the high court for long.

Singhvi apprehended that the high court may not hear the plea before March 30, the last day for filing of nominations from the Siwan Lok Sabha constituency for the general elections.

Singhvi urged the bench to direct the high court to hear and decide his client’s plea one way or the other to enable him to approach the apex court in case the conviction is not suspended.

Singhvi said the Election Commission has slated March 23-30 for filing of nominations for the Siwan constituency but Patna High Court judge Chandramohan Prasad did not appear to be willing to hear his client in time.

Singhvi told the court that his client had earlier even represented to the Patna High Court’s chief justice for an early hearing of his plea but had failed to secure any relief.

A Siwan court had convicted Shahabuddn May 5, 2007 for kidnapping and trying to kill Communist Party of India-Marxist Leninist (CPI-ML) activist Chote Lal in February 1999. The court had in August 2007 sentenced him to 10 years in jail.

Under India’s electoral laws, an individual convicted for a criminal offence and sentenced to jail for more than two years is barred from running for elections.

Shahabuddin was also convicted in 2006 and jailed for two years for carrying out armed raids on the CPI-ML office in 1998. His conviction in this case does not jeopardise his rights to contest an election.

Shahabuddin had come to the apex court close on the heels of Bollywod actor Sanjay Dutt, who has moved for suspension of his conviction for illegally possessing arms in the run-up to the 1993 Mumbai serial terror bombings.