In a reprieve to RJD chief Lalu Prasad, the Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered an interim stay on the passing of the verdict in the 17-year-old fodder scam case involving the former Bihar chief minister.
Lalu has moved the SC questioning the impartiality of the judge hearing the matter in Jharkhand and claimed that the judicial officer was related to a minister in the Bihar government. The verdict was to be delivered on July 15.
A bench of Justice P Sathasivam and Justice J Chelameswar agreed to hear the plea, stating the issue raised by him required examination. It issued notices to the Jharkhand government and the CBI, the investigating and prosecuting agency in the scam.
The bench, however, said it would dismiss the petition if CBI refuted the allegation of any bias on the part of the judge of the trial court. It gave two weeks’ time to respond to Lalu’s plea and fixed July 23 to hear the matter.
The RJD chief has raised questions on the impartiality of special CBI judge PK Singh after he reserved the verdict. Lalu has alleged the judge was biased as he is a relative of PK Shahi, the education minister in Nitish Kumar’s government.
The Jharkhand High Court had held that Lalu had failed to prove that the judge had any association with Shahi except that he was “distantly” related with him. However, according to Lalu the CBI judge’s younger sister was married to Shahi’s cousin.