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Life term for Shahabuddin
Ambarish Dutta
Tribune News Service

Patna, May 8
In what perhaps could mean an end to the political career of the criminal-turned-politician, RJD MP Mohd Shahabuddin from Siwan, a special court today awarded life imprisonment to him three days after he was convicted in a case pertaining to the kidnapping of the CPI-ML activist Chote Lal Gupta on February 7,1999.

The 17-year-long political career of Shahabuddin had begun in 1990 when he first had won as a "bahubali" independent candidate from Jiradie assembly seat of Siwan in 1990. Jiradie is known as the birthplace of the first President of independent India, Dr Rajendra Prasad.

Subsequently, RJD supremo Lalu Prasad inducted him into his party and since 1996 he has been representing Siwan Lok sabha seat as RJD MP.

Additional District and Sessions judge of the special court in Siwan Gyaneshwar Prasad Srivastava ,who pronounced the punishment today, also imposed a fine of Rs 10,000 and gave him a month`s time to go in appeal against the verdict. The court already had held Shahabuddin guilty on Saturday under Section 364 (kidnapping or abducting in order to murder) of the Indian Penal Code.

Shahabuddin was the only person named as an accused in the FIR as others involved in the kidnapping were unknown. The prosecution could not establish that the kidnapped man was murdered as his body was never recovered. The trial of the case was held inside Siwan jail for security reasons.

Following today`s verdict, Shahabuddin may be debarred from contesting the 2009 Lok Sabha polls. Experts say that as per Section 8(3) of the Representation of the People Act of 1951, a person convicted for an offence and sentenced to imprisonment for two years or more would be disqualified from contesting elections in future.

Shahabuddin, however, could retain his membership of the Lok Sabha till 2009 as he would not be under any legal compulsion to resign in the wake of today's verdict, which he is free to appeal. Additional Director-General of Police Abhayanand also said though it was not obligatory for Shahabuddin to resign from the Lower House, he would not be able to contest polls if his conviction was not stayed by a superior court till the next Lok Sabha polls.

This is the second time that Shahabuddin has been convicted in a criminal case. In March this year, a special court in Siwan had awarded two years` imprisonment to Shahabuddin for assaulting another CPI-ML worker in 1998.

Shahabuddin is currently facing 31 cases, in which charges have been framed against him in eight cases. Charges were framed under various Sections of the IPC, including 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 364 (kidnapping or abducting in order to murder), 365 (kidnapping or abducting with intent to secretly and wrongfully confine a person), 379 (punishment for theft), 147 (punishment for rioting), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon) and 324 (voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means).

The other cases pending against him include those of possession of illegal arms of foreign make, unaccounted foreign currency and violation of the Wildlife Act.

Earlier last month, the Bihar government had stripped the incarcerated MP of special treatment in jail as a VIP prisoner. The government decision came after Siwan District Magistrate SK Mall gave a report in which he held Shahabuddin responsible for the violent clash inside the prison in March between two groups of inmates.

Shahabuddin was arrested in New Delhi more than a year ago over the seizure of arms from his ancestral house in Siwan.

It was the Nitish government which set up a special fast track court for speedy trial of Shahabuddin.Earlier this year,the Patna High Court directed that all pending cases against him be tried by the special court set up by the state government in Siwan jail only.

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