Mon, 18 Jan 2021

New Delhi [India], December 3 (ANI): The Delhi High Court has granted conditional "custody parole" to former MP and Bihar politician Mohd Shahabuddin, who is serving a life sentence in the 2004 Siwan double murder case, to meet his ailing mother and visit his late father's grave who passed away on September 19 this year.

A bench of Justice Anup Jairam Bhambhani on Wednesday granted "custody parole" for a period of six hours at a time on any three days of his choice, whether consecutive days or otherwise, within a period of 30 days from the date of this order.

"On each of these three days, Shahabuddin would be taken 'in custody' with adequate police security and protection. During the period of custody parole, the petitioner shall be free to meet only his mother, wife and any other blood relatives but no one else; and the petitioner shall be afforded sufficient privacy to interact with such persons as he pleases," the order said.

The bench also made it clear that in the course of the custody parole, the petitioner shall not be entitled to the presence of his personal guards or other such persons. Shahabuddin is currently lodged in Delhi's Tihar jail.

Earlier, the Delhi High Court had suggested that Shahabuddin should explore possibilities of asking his family to come to the national capital to visit him in Tihar Jail. A bench of Justice AJ Bhambhani has made the suggestion on a petition filed by former Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Shahabuddin seeking custody parole.

Shahabuddin had urged the court to allow him to go to Siwan as he wants to visit his unwell mother and to offer prayers at the grave of his late father, who passed away on September 19.

The Delhi government and Bihar Police, however, hesitated to provide safety to the jailed leader.

The additional standing counsel of the Delhi government, advocate Sanjay Lao, had submitted that the Delhi Police will face difficulty in escorting him to Bihar in the COVID-19 pandemic times and also city police should not be held responsible for the safety of the leader.

Representing Bihar in the matter, advocate Keshav Mohan told the court if the leader is released on custody parole, then it is the duty of Delhi to ensure the safety of Shahabuddin, who is lodged in Tihar Jail.

The Delhi High Court, in its detailed order passed on December 2, said that it has given its painful consideration to the prayers made in the petition and is of the opinion that a very strict balancing is required between the humane considerations for grant of custody parole and the overarching considerations of ensuring judicial custody of the prisoner, his own safety and the safety of others, and ensuring that there is no subversion of, or prejudice to, the legal process.

"After all, the Supreme Court has in exercise of its extraordinary judicial powers, transferred the petitioner to Delhi to undergo sentence as well as trials outside Bihar for compelling considerations. It is evident that the very presence of the petitioner within Bihar was perceived by the SC as a grave threat and interference in the course of justice," the order said.

"Yet, in an effort to balance competing interests and rights, as propounded by the Hon'ble Supreme Court, this court would not completely negate the petitioner's plea for custody parole in the backdrop of the recent bereavement he has suffered," it added. (ANI)

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