The Supreme Court verdict reinstating criminal conspiracy charge against RJD chief Lalu Prasad in a fodder scam does not pose an imminent threat to the former Bihar chief minister, his lawyer says.
The most damaging fallout from his role in the scam came on September 30, 2013 when a trial court ruled on the first of six cases against him, finding him guilty. It earned him five years in prison, disqualification from Parliament and a ban on contesting election. He was given bail by the SC in December that year.
“The apex court’s verdict would not pose any imminent threat to Prasad… the only thing is that he will have to face trial in the five fodder scam cases still pending against him in different courts across Ranchi and Patna,” said Prasad’s lawyer in Ranchi, Prabhat Kumar, said before the verdict.
“But, the trial court would have to revert to the proceedings that was dropped after the HC’s order in 2014,” Kumar added, saying that the still pending cases against Prasad would take a long time to attain the finality.
- January: Report on fodder scam appears, alleging crores of rupees have been siphoned off from government treasury in the name of non-existing companies for supply of fodder in districts like Chaibasa.
- March: Patna high court orders Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to probe the alleged irregularities. Supreme Court upholds high court order.
- June 17: Governor A.R. Kidwai grants permission to prosecute chief minister Lalu Prasad and others in the case.
- June 21: In a major embarrassment to the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), CBI conducts raids at Lalu Prasad’s residence.
- July 25: Lalu Prasad, anticipating CBI indictment, steps down and names wife Rabri Devi, who has no political experience, as chief minister.
- July 29: Supreme Court denies bail to Lalu Prasad.
- July 30: Lalu Prasad surrenders before the CBI court.
- December 12: Lalu Prasad released on bail after 135 days in judicial custody.
- August: A case of disproportionate assets registered against both Lalu Prasad and Rabri Devi.
- April: Lalu Prasad and Rabri Devi charged in the case.
- April 5: Lalu Prasad and Rabri Devi surrender. Rabri Devi gets bail.
- June 9: Charges framed against Lalu Prasad in court.
- October: Supreme Court transfers cases to Jharkhand with the creation of the new state.
- November: Lalu Prasad surrenders in Ranchi.
- December 18: Lalu Prasad and Rabri Devi given a clean chit in disproportionate assets case by a special CBI court.
- December 17: The special CBI court frames charges against Lalu Prasad in fodder case, over the fraudulent withdrawal of Rs.3.13 crore from Dumka treasury between ecember 1995 and January 1996.
- August 13: Supreme Court refuses to transfer the case from the Ranchi court.
- September 30: CBI court in Ranchi convicts Lalu Prasad in the fodder case that disqualifies him from Parliament and renders him ineligible to contest elections for at least six years. Forty-four others, including former Bihar chief minister Jagannath Mishra, six politicians and four IAS officers, are also convicted for fraudulent withdrawal of Rs.37.7 crore from Chaibasa treasury.
- Oct 3: Lalu Prasad gets 5 years jail term and Rs 25 lakh fine in this case. The order disqualifies him from Parliament and renders him ineligible to contest elections for at least six years
- November 14: Jharkhand high court drops conspiracy charge against Lalu Prasad in a case related to the fodder scam, on the ground that a person cannot be tried twice for the same offence.
- May 8: The Supreme Court reinstated criminal conspiracy charges against Lalu Prasad in a fodder scam case, and said that the former Bihar chief minister will be tried in each of the five remaining cases against him.
“Prasad had secured bail in all these cases hence there is no threat of his being taken into custody,” he clarified.
The CBI in 1996 had booked Prasad in six fodder scam cases related to fraudulent withdrawal of animal husbandry department (AHD) funds from different government treasuries during 1990-1995.
The con was carried out by documents purporting to show fictitious spends on medicines and fodder for cattle.
Monday’s ruling related to a case of fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 90 lakh from Deoghar treasury, involving 27 accused.
The Jharkhand HC had quashed all major sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act under which Prasad had been convicted during the trial into the Chaibasa treasury case that ended in 2013.
With the Supreme Court’s verdict, Prasad would have to face trial in all the five cases pending against him, Kumar explained.
“If he gets convicted...he would have to file separate appeal-cum-bail petitions in the higher court challenging the conviction.”
* He has already been convicted in one of the cases and charges levelled against him in all other pending cases were of similar nature.
CBI was banking on the same set of evidences to prove the allegations.
No one should be put on peril twice for the same offence.
Any further prosecution in other pending cases would be barred under Article 20 (2) of the Constitution and also under Section 300 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
All cases registered against Prasad were related with different treasuries and involved fake withdrawal of varied amounts and therefore these cases should not be treated as the same.
Deposition of more than 100 prosecution witnesses were still to be recorded in pending cases and new evidences might surface against Prasad.