The fodder game: When CBI got caught out
Five months before the special CBI court in Ranchi pronounced former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad guilty in a fodder scam case, the CBI quietly transferred four key fodder scam investigators — Deputy SP’s AK Jha, BK Singh, Dasrath Murmoo and Ashesh Kumar.india Updated: Oct 06, 2013 10:42 IST
CBI director Ranjit Sinha’s proximity to fodder-tainted Lalu Prasad has never been hidden. Sinha himself admitted to it in an interview to HT in May, saying, “I was a Bihar cadre IPS officer. Lalu was the chief minister and I served in his administration. Later when he was the railway minister, I was the director general of the railway protection force (RPF). I also called him for the annual ‘At Home’ function of the CBI chief. I was told that it might create a controversy but along with all other politicians he was also invited. I have nothing to hide.”
Sinha may have nothing to hide but he did stir a controversy that involved him and the agency he heads. Five months before the special CBI court in Ranchi pronounced former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad guilty in a fodder scam case, the CBI quietly transferred four key fodder scam investigators — Deputy SP’s AK Jha, BK Singh, Dasrath Murmoo and Ashesh Kumar. Three of these officers — Jha, Singh and Kumar — were investigating as well as pairvi officers (who handle day-to-day trial) in cases against Lalu Prasad. A pairvy officer, who knows his documents and produces them as and when required at the time of arguments in the court, is key to the success of the trial in any case.
The silent move was quickly thwarted after Rajiv Ranjan Singh, JD (U) MP, political opponent and petitioner brought it to the notice of the Supreme Court. The transfers were immediately stayed, the principal opponent party of Lalu and one of the original petitioners in the fodder scam who demanded a CBI probe in the case in 1996, immediately brought the matter to the notice of the Supreme Court and the apex court stayed the transfer.
Sinha was also posted as DIG, CBI, in Patna during the 1990s when the fodder scam was being investigated. Then, Sinha had asked his bosses in Delhi to post him out of Patna “Being a Bihar cadre officer I didn’t want to get associated with fodder scam probe. But nobody listened to me... I was made a villain by my powerful enemies in the state despite the monitoring bench of the Patna high court not even once making an adverse remark against me,” Sinha had clarified then.
Always under attack for its dismal record in proving charges against the high and mighty in the court, the fodder probe has turned out as a success story. And Sinha takes credit for it, saying they did a professional job.