The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This Page
Court strictures on Sahi soft-pedal

Ranchi, Oct. 9: First the governor refused to administer oath of office to Bhanu Pratap Sahi, and today Jharkhand high court added to the government’s embarrassment by pulling up the police and the lower court for abusing the judicial process and trying to let Sahi off the hook.

A division bench headed by chief justice Muthusamy Karpagavinayagam took suo motu cognizance of the case and ordered the investigating police officers and South Chhotanagpur range inspector-general B.K. Pandey to appear before the court in person on October 13.

The sting came even as the new government’s troubles appeared never-ending as chief minister Madhu Koda failed once again to distribute portfolios among ministers despite daylong meetings. He left for Delhi later in the day.

An announcement is, however, expected tomorrow once Koda returns from Delhi. While officially his visit is said to be to finalise UPA’s strategy, and candidate if necessary, for the Koderma bypoll next month, unofficially aides conceded that the chief minister needed Delhi’s “clearance” on portfolios.

UPA sources admitted that while Stephen Marandi is adamant on the deputy chief minister’s position that he held in the short-lived Shibu Soren regime last year, the JMM chief is against it.

There are other contradictions that surfaced as ministers lobbied hard for plum portfolios. Chandra Prakash Choudhary, who sprang a surprise by joining the ministry yesterday, is said to have demanded the road construction department.

Sahi, the expelled Forward Bloc MLA from Bhavanathpur, appeared subdued and refused to comment on speculation that his father, who is not a member of the Assembly, might get inducted into the ministry as a compromise candidate. “I trust the chief minister and he is going to take a decision,” he said.

Curiously, Sahi, who had earlier been claiming that he has nothing to do with Forward Bloc, today said he could not be administered oath as a clearance was still awaited from the party.

The high court’s outburst, meanwhile, caught the police brass napping. The South Chhotanagpur IG is accused of clamping a “stay” on criminal proceedings pending against Sahi in the Garhwa court.

The division bench of the chief justice and Justice M.Y. Eqbal pointed out that the IG had no jurisdiction to stay criminal proceedings pending in a court of law. After the IG “stayed” the investigation, the police returned the warrants and the chief judicial officer, B.K. Mishra, then passed orders “recalling” the warrants, noted the high court.

The high court declared that the chief judicial magistrate had passed the order hurriedly and without any application of the mind. It stayed the magistrate’s October 5 order by which criminal proceedings against the MLA had been suspended. The order, the high court said, was in utter violation of the laws.

The IG, the court observed, had acted in an undesirable manner and interfered with the proceedings of the court. His conduct, the court said, is contemptuous.

Email This Page