The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Court rap on Bihar

Patna, Aug. 5: Elected representatives who have been declared absconders move about freely in Bihar, where law and order seems to have collapsed, a division bench of Patna High Court said.

The observation has come as a scathing indictment of the state government, already on the defensive over its handling of the arrest of a ruling party MLA.

But the court did not directly refer to the way in which Mohammad Shahabuddin, MLA from Siwan, has managed to evade arrest even though a warrant has been issued against him in a kidnapping case.

The high court, which is hearing a public interest litigation filed by a traders’ association, said public servants and absconders in criminal cases go scot-free in the state.

Absconders should be suspended from government jobs immediately, the bench added.

The bench of Chief Justice Ravi S. Dhavan and Justice Shahsank Kumar Singh said if a public servant or absconder fails to appear in court on a stipulated date “there will be a suspension from the office he holds”.

The bench took exception to the director-general of police D.P. Ojha’s failure to make it to court today despite a court summons.

“Running away from court is violence to the spirit of the Constitution,” it said.

They added that often police stations do not register complaints on one pretext or another. The judges said the state government’s crime figures were “doctored” and the data an “eyewash” since many cases are not registered by police.

“The rule of law appears to have collapsed in Bihar,” they said.

The court also rejected the government’s argument that “the crime situation in Bihar is much better than in many other states”.

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