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The Hindu
The Hindu
Amarnath Tewary

New Bihar Law Minister wanted in a kidnapping case, CM Nitish says ‘no information’

A day after Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Kartikeya Singh alias Master Saheb took oath as new Law Minister in the ‘Mahagathbandhan’ Cabinet led by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, controversy erupted on August 17 as an arrest warrant was issued against him in an old kidnapping case.

However, Mr. Kartikeya Singh’s lawyer Madhusudan Sharma, later told mediapersons that the “police in their last charge sheet  have absolved Mr. Singh from the case and the court granted interim protection till September 1, 2022”. 

Mr. Kartikeya Singh, said to be close to imprisoned bahubali (strongman) RJD leader and MLA from Mokama, Anant Singh, had taken oath as new Law Minister of the new Cabinet formed on August 16.

Mr. Anant Singh, several time MLA from Mokama, is currently lodged in Beur jail of Patna following his conviction in cases related with recovery of sophisticated weapons and ammunition from his ancestral house.

Mr. Kartikeya Singh was elected as MLC from Patna on an RJD ticket in April this year.  Earlier, he had admitted that he has been close to Mr. Anant Singh for last several years. Mr. Anant Singh is infamously known as  Chhote Sarkar (‘mini-government’) of Mokama area in Patna district.

Earlier, a warrant of arrest was issued against Mr. Kartikeya Singh in a case (859/14) on July 14, under Sections 363, 364 and 365 of the Indian Penal Code at Bihta police station in connection with the kidnapping of a builder, Rajiv Kumar. Mr. Kartikeya Singh was to surrender in a local court in Danapur on August 16, but he reached the Raj Bhavan to take oath as the new Law Minister.

Meanwhile, Mr. Kartikeya Singh was granted “no coercive” the court of Additional District and Session Judge (3 rd), Danapur, till September 1.  Mr. Kartikeya Singh said he was being falsely charged and there was no warrant of arrest against him.

Mr. Kartikeya Singh is said to be the lone upper caste Bhumihar legislator from the RJD .

“I have no such information”, quipped Chief Minister Nitish Kumar when mediapersons asked him about the warrant of arrest.

Meanwhile, senior State BJP leader and party Rajya Sabha MP Sushil Kumar Modi demanded that Mr. Kumar should “immediately sack” Mr. Kartikeya Singh from the Cabinet. “If Kartikeya Singh had warrant of arrest issued against him and he had to surrender in the court, how could he take oath as Law Minister on the same day? This is return of ‘jungle raj’ in Bihar,” Mr. Modi told mediapersons in Delhi.

“The new Cabinet of ‘Mahagathbandhan’ government is full of tainted Ministers like Surendra Yadav, Ramanand Yadav, Lalit Yadav, Kartikeya Singh and others,” added Mr. Modi.

Similarly, senior State BJP leader and former Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad wondered how a lower court could grant interim relief to Mr. Kartikeya Singh in a case in which his bail petition was refused by the High Court and he was asked to surrender. However, Congress leader Kanhaiya Kumar defended Mr. Kartikeya Singh and said, “cases are lodged against those in politics, even on flimsy issues”.

As many as 31 Ministers — 16 from the RJD and 11 from the JD(U), two from the Congress and one each from the Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) and an Independent candidate — took oath as Ministers in the Nitish-led government.

According to Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) more than 70% of the newly sworn-in Ministers in Bihar have declared criminal cases against themselves. The ADR report says 23 Ministers (72%) have declared criminal cases against them and 17 Ministers (53%) have declared “serious criminal cases” against them.

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