The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) officer heading the probe into the multi-million-rupee fodder scam involving then Bihar Chief Minister Lalu Prasad, has applied for the Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) - a step construed to be taken under pressure.
RC Chaudhary, superintendent of police of CBI, applied for VRS on Thursday without citing any reason.
He later told mediapersons: "I am seeking retirement owing to family problems."
According to sources in the CBI, Chaudhary, who was recently promoted as superintendent, was transferred to New Delhi from Ranchi last month. He was transferred without informing the Jharkhand High Court, which is monitoring the fodder scam case.
The monitoring bench of the Jharkhand High Court had categorically told the CBI not to transfer any officer involved in the investigation of the fodder scam without permission of the court.
The transfer was seen as a move to protect the high profile politicians involved in the scandal. The multi-million-rupee fodder scam surfaced in 1996 when Jharkhand was part of undivided Bihar and the investigation was handed over to the CBI at the order of the Patna High Court.
The scam saw fraudulent withdrawals worth millions of rupees from the state exchequer by officials in the animal husbandry department.
Railway Minister Lalu Prasad and former Bihar Chief Minister Jagannath Mishra are also accused in five cases. They were sent to jail three times.
A total of 63 cases were registered in the scam and 41 were transferred to Jharkhand after it was carved out from Bihar in November 2000.
The CBI has filed chargesheets in almost all these cases.
The special CBI court has passed judgements in 13 cases and more than 130 accused in different cases have been awarded a jail sentence of two-six years.
According to sources in the CBI, Chaudhary's transfer and possible retirement would have a negative impact on the trial.