The Patna High Court on Tuesday disallowed controversial Rashtriya Janata Dal Member of Parliament from Siwan Mohammad Shahabuddin's petition, seeking to contest Lok Sabha polls in Bihar, by refusing to stay his conviction in a kidnap and murder case.
A division bench of the High Court comprising Justices Shivakirti Singh and Sheema Ali Khan refused to stay the conviction and disallowed him to fight the elections.
The court had on March 16 reserved its order on two interlocutory applications of the MP, seeking bail and suspension of a lower court order convicting him in a kidnap and murder case, so that he could contest the elections from Siwan.
Today, the court ordered the RJD MP to file a bail bond of Rs 10,000 with two sureties of like amount to obtain bail from the trial court.
It also directed Shahabuddin not to leave the Siwan district limits till the trial of the case in superior courts.
Though the court's order allowing bail came as a major reprieve for Shahabuddin, he will continue to be in judicial custody in some other cases, in which he has already been convicted by the lower court.
Shahabuddin's counsel Surendra Singh, a senior advocate of the Supreme Court, had contended that his client was a four-term MP and his acquittal was necessary in this case to pave the way for him to contest the forthcoming LS polls.
Earlier, a lower court had sentenced him to life imprisonment in connection with the kidnapping and suspected murder of CPI-ML activist Chote Lal Gupta on February 7, 1999.
The Supreme Court had on Monday asked Shahabuddin to approach Patna High Court with his plea seeking a stay on his conviction.
A Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan had asked the high court to hear his petition expeditiously keeping in view the fact that the last date of nomination for Siwan constituency is March 30.
Significantly, RJD chief Lalu Prasad had declared on Monday that Hina Shahab, Shahabuddin's wife, would be his party's candidate from Siwan.
Shahabuddin's counsel had quoted former cricketer and Bharatiya Janata Party MP Navjot Singh Sidhu's case, in which the Supreme Court had not only stayed his conviction but also suspended his sentence in a case of culpable homicide not amounting to murder, that enabled him to contest the last Lok Sabha polls.
He had argued that Shahabuddin was earlier convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment on the basis of the statement given by a witness Seet Lal Paswan, who had claimed that he was forced into a vehicle by the MP.
"His account spoke nothing on whether he saw Chote Lal Gupta being abducted or killed," he said.
Prosecution counsel Shyameshwar Dayal, opposing Shahabuddin's petition, had pointed out that the MP's bail pleas were rejected twice earlier in the case.
"The defence has not been able to submit before the court a single additional material to buttress his claim for bail or suspension of the sentence," Dayal argued.
The prosecution counsel claimed that the MP was still facing charges in 26 cases, that included serious offences, and was convicted in six others, including the attack on the then Siwan superintendent of Police S K Singhal on May 3, 1996.
Hence, Shahabuddin's plea for suspension of sentence and bail should not be entertained, he argued.