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SC denies Shahabuddin more time to prepare defence

New Delhi: The Supreme Court said rejected controversial RJD leader Shahabuddin's claim of facing "media trial" in a murder case and his vehement plea for more time to prepare for his defence.

The apex court said witnesses in cases Shahabuddin has been facing have been "bumped off."

Shahabuddin's claim did not move the SC which asked him to be ready on Wednesday to justify why his bail should not be revoked.

"Since there are allegations and counter allegations being made in the case, we do not intend to further adjourn the matter. Many witnesses have been bumped off," the apex court noted.

"We have to strike a balance by hearing both parties," a bench of Justices P C Ghose and Amitava Roy said when the counsel for the RJD strongman asked for a week's time to go through the voluminous records and brief noted senior lawyer Ram Jethmalani, who is to argue the case for Shahabuddin.

The bench, while adjourning the hearing till September 28, denied further time by acceding to the plea of lawyer Prashant Bhushan, representing Chandrakeshwar Prasad who lost his three sons in two separate crimes, that the man in question was a threat to other remaining witnesses.

Objecting to this strongly, senior advocate Shekhar Naphade, who represented Shahabuddin, alleged that his client was facing "media trial" and lawyers like Bhushan were behaving like sole custodians of public morality.

"Everyday, this man is posing threat to the society. Look at the chart (of cases against Shahabuddin). He has been convicted in 10 cases. 45 criminal cases are pending against him. Life imprisonment has been awarded in two cases," Bhushan counter-argued adding that if the hearing was being adjourned, then the High Court order granting him bail be stayed.