Delhi High Court seeks CBI, AAP government’s reply on Mohammad Shahabuddin’s plea

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The Delhi High Court sought responses from the CBI and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government on controversial RJD leader Mohammad Shahabuddin’s plea alleging that he has been kept in solitary confinement at Tihar Jail since February last year against the law and without any court order.

The apex court on February 15 last year had ordered the shifting of Shahabuddin, now facing trial in 45 criminal cases, from Siwan Jail in Bihar to the Tihar Jail, saying an accused cannot be allowed to “jettison the basic fundamentals of trial”. Following the direction, Shahabuddin was transferred to Tihar Jail on February 19, 2017.

A habeas corpus plea filed on behalf of the RJD strongman urged a bench of justices Vipin Sanghi and P S Teji that the authorities be directed to produce Shahabuddin, currently lodged in central jail no. 2 of Tihar, before the high court. It has also sought appropriate orders for his safety.

Taking note of the claims made in the petition, the bench directed the authorities to file their response by April 27 to the RJD leader’s plea seeking his immediate removal from “solitary confinement”. The apex court had last year shifted Shahabuddin to Tihar Jail on the pleas filed by Asha Ranjan, the widow of slain Siwan-based journalist Rajdeo Ranjan, and Chandrakeshwar Prasad, whose three sons were killed in two separate incidents.

Advocate Rudro Chatterjee, who filed the plea on behalf of Shahabuddin, said his client was lodged in a “dingy and damp isolated cell without any proper source of natural light and air” in the high-security ward of the Tihar prisons complex. “The cell has an attached courtyard of similar size where he is let out on occasions, as per the whims and fancies of the respondents (Tihar jail and CBI). Otherwise, he does not even get access to natural light for days on end,” the lawyer claimed.

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