Taking exception to the hurry in which the Bihar government moved to withdraw the criminal case against Union minister Taslimuddin, the Supreme Court on Monday restrained the trial court from proceeding further on the issue and issued notices to him, the Bihar government and the Centre.
A bench comprising Justice N Santosh Hegde and Justice S B Sinha passed the interim order after taking note of the allegations made in a public interest litigation filed by the Delhi Study Group that the prosecution had moved to withdraw the attempt to murder case immediately after Taslimuddin was made a minister.
The application for withdrawal of the case was moved on August 14, DSG counsel and advocate Mukul Rohtagi said, adding that the file was transferred to a magistrate and the arrest warrant was stayed the same day.
The court asked, "Does it not show extraordinary interest on the part of the government?" "What is the mortal hurry in the hearing of the application seeking withdrawal of the case? What is the mortal urgency to withdraw the case?
"A case which was kept pending since the year 2000, why did the government choose to move so fast. Does this happen to every accused in the country?"
However, the court refused a plea by the petitioners to vacate the stay granted by the trial court at Araria on the operation of the warrant.
Rohtagi requested the court to transfer the case to a neighbouring state.
Appearing for Taslimuddin, advocate Nageshwar Rao submitted that the trial court had fixed September 8 for hearing the application seeking withdrawal of the case. He requested the court to wait for the outcome of that hearing.
The bench said it would like to await the trial court's decision. However, it asked what would happen to the petitioners' plea to transfer the case if the trial court allowed the application to withdraw it.
Left with no alternative, Taslimuddin's counsel shifted his focus.
"Taslimuddin's political rival and former Union minister Shahnawaz Hussein is firing from the shoulders of the DSG, which has filed the petition," Rao said and added that his client's political opponents would use this order to raise a hue and cry and demand the minister's resignation.
The bench observed, "The court has nothing to do with the comments passed by political parties against each other. If the order had been in your favour, you would have done the same thing."