The Supreme Court on Wednesday pulled up the Bihar government for acting too slowly after it sought the cancellation of bail for former Rashtriya Janata Dal legislator and local don Mohammad Shahabuddin weeks after he was released from jail. "Were you in slumber till he got bail?" the court asked Dinesh Dwivedi, the counsel for the Nitish Kumar government, questioning why they had not acted when Shahabuddin was given bail in 45 cases before he was finally released.

Dwivedi admitted there were "anomalies" in the state's handling of the case and said they were "handicapped at the time". The court however said that as the state there was no reason for them to be handicapped and they should have taken up the matter with the high court, which granted the bail, at the right time.

The court was hearing two petitions demanding that bail be revoked for Shahabuddin. They pleas were filed by the Bihar government and a couple whose three sons were allegedly murdered on Shahabuddin's orders. While the government had sought a non-bailable warrant against Shahabuddin, the couple's counsel Prashant Bhushan said on Wednesday that granting him bail would endanger the parents' lives.

The court had asked Shahabuddin, who is an accused in several murders in the Siwan area, including that of journalist Rajdeo Ranjan, to respond to these petitions on September 19.

Shahabuddin was released on bail from a Bihar jail on September 10, after nearly 11 years. The former Siwan MP had been sentenced to life and sent to prison in November 2005 in connection with the murder of two brothers in his native village in the district. He was granted bail in another case – the murder of Rajiv Roshan, a prime eyewitness in the killing of the two brothers. The court had claimed that the trial in the Roshan case could not begin as Shahabuddin, who was named a conspirator in the chargesheet, was in jail.

Dwivedi said that Shahabuddin had been committing crimes from inside jail after he was arrested, and that he was acquitted in most of them because eyewitnesses refused to testify against him. The Bharatiya Janata Party has accused the RJD and its chief Lalu Prasad Yadav of supporting Shahabuddin. He was welcomed by several politicians on his release from jail, including a Janata Dal(United) MLA. The JD(U), which is in an alliance with RJD and the Congress in Bihar, took a stern view of this.