The judgement on Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad in a fodder scam case will be delivered on Monday.
The verdict is crucial for the RJD chief’s political career since the fate of UPA government's ordinance that would have shielded tainted and convicted MPs and MLAs from disqualification seems to be sealed with Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi dismissing it as "complete nonsense".
The designated CBI court in Ranchi, where Prasad’s trial is on, is set to pronounce its verdict in a case relating to fraudulent withdrawal of money from the Chaibasa treasury. Prasad, who was chief minister of undivided Bihar when the scam took place, is one of the key accused in the case. The verdict would decide the fate of 45 accused, a majority of them above 65 years of age.
Apart from the 67-year-old RJD chief, the verdict in one of the nine remaining cases in the 17-year-old fodder scam involves another former Bihar chief minister 76-year-old Jagannath Mishra.
Following an earlier directive by the court, Prasad and Mishra have reached the state Capital to appear before it on Monday.
Prasad, a former Union railway minister, arrived in Ranchi on a flight and has been staying at a railway guest house.
He, however, refused to talk to mediapersons. "I would not comment before the verdict is delivered. My lawyers would address the media after the judgment,” he told a bunch of eager journalists chasing him for a comment.
His counsel Prabhat Kumar said, "According to conditions imposed by the Supreme Court, among other things, my client has been restrained from speaking about the proceedings of the case before the media.”
With RJD ministers in Jharkhand government and party cadres likely to throng the court premises on Monday, security arrangements have been put in place in anticipation.
The former Bihar chief minister, Mishra, too, didn’t give any appearance to the media. His lawyer Rakesh Kumar Jha said, "He is suffering from multiple ailments. He also suffered a brain stroke recently.”
In the case relating to fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 37.70 crore from the Chaibasa treasury, it was alleged that the accused, including officials of animal husbandry department (AHD) and private suppliers, connived to cheat the department by supplying fodder, medicines and other articles only on paper. The politicians have been accused of receiving kickbacks and extending patronage to the scamsters. The suppliers received payments from different government treasuries against fake supplies.
This is the first case out of the five involving some high-profile accused, including Prasad, Mishra, Janata Dal (United) MP from Bihar, Jagdish Sharma, former legislators Dr RK Rana, Vidya Sagar Nishad and Dhruv Bhagat, four former IAS officers and 35 others in which verdict would be delivered after 17 years. Out of 53 fodder scam cases registered by the CBI in 1996, as many as 44 cases have been disposed of. Out of the remaining nine cases, Prasad is named as an accused in five cases.