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HC nod for jailed MPs Shahabuddin, Surajbhan to vote

Source: PTI
July 16, 2008 17:24 IST
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Two more jailed Members of Parliament, whose parties are constituents of the United Progressive Alliance, were on Wednesday allowed by the Patna High Court to take part in the trust vote in Lok Sabha, giving some relief to the Manmohan Singh government.

A division bench comprising Justices Shivkriti Singh and Abhijit Sinha granted Rashtriya Janata Dal MP from Siwan Mohammad Shahabuddin and Lok Janshakti Party MP from Balia Surajbhan Singh permission to go to New Delhi for the July 22 confidence vote. Both are serving life terms in separate criminal cases.

On Tuesday, Atiq Ahmed, facing trial in a number of criminal cases in Uttar Pradesh, was permitted by a Allahabad court to take part in the voting.

Ahmed, an MP from Phoolpur, was expelled by Samajwadi party for anti-party activities and has kept all options open saying 'everything is possible in politics'. He is being wooed by both Congress as well as the BSP, which has decided to vote against the government.

The UPA is pulling all stops to ensure that five MPs, currently lodged in various jails and who are expected to back the government, are in Delhi in time for the voting.

Besides Shahabuddin, Suraj Bhan Singh, and Ateeq Ahmed, two other jailed MPs who could support the government are Pappu Yadav (RJD) and Afzal Ansari of Samajwadi Party. There is no word yet on these two MPs -- whether they are moving courts to get bail to take part in voting. Another MP in jail is Umakant Yadav of the Bahujan Samaj Party.

The court allowed Shahabuddin, serving life term in connection with the kidnapping and suspected murder of a CPI-ML activist Chotelal Gupta in 1999, to leave for New Delhi on July 20 and remain there for two days till July 22.

It directed Shahabuddin to return to Bihar by July 23 and bear the travel expenses of him and the accompanying policemen.

Shahabuddin had been earlier granted permission by the court to take part in the last presidential election.

Earlier in the day, the same bench granted bail to Surajbhan Singh despite stiff opposition by the prosecution.

Surajbhan, along with two of his associates, was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of a farmer, by a fast track court of Begusarai on June 25.

Opposing Surajbhan's prayer, prosecution counsel Shyamseshar Dayal argued that two of the witnesses had deposed during the trial that he (Surajbhan) had personally shot the deceased in the head.

"The MP has criminal antecedents," Dayal said.

Surajbhan's lawyer Rana Pratap Singh, however, denied the charge and said the injury report in the case maintained that the victim was shot in the back of his head. "No evidence of the MP's direct involvement in the murder exists," he claimed.

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