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Lalu Prasad to face verdict in another Bihar fodder scam case today

RJD chief Lalu Prasad arrived in Jharkhand capital Ranchi where a special CBI court will pronounce a verdict on Saturday in a case related to the Bihar fodder scam.

india Updated: Dec 23, 2017 07:33 IST
Bedanti Saran
Bedanti Saran
Hindustan Times, Ranchi
Lalu Prasad,fodder scam,Bihar fodder scam
RJD chief Lalu Prasad arrives at the Patna airport on Friday as he prepares to leave for Ranchi where a CBI court is expected to pronounce a judgment in a fodder scam case on Saturday.(PTI)

A special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in Ranchi will deliver its verdict on Saturday in a fodder scam case involving former Bihar chief ministers Lalu Prasad and Jagannath Mishra.

The case filed by the CBI relates to the fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 90 lakh from the Deoghar treasury during 1991-94. Out of the six fodder scam cases registered against Lalu Prasad, this is the second case which would see a verdict.

The fodder scam refers to a series of cases where state funds meant for buying fodder were allegedly siphoned by government officials and politicians in Bihar.

What is the fodder scam?
A sum of Rs 950 crore was fraudulently withdrawn from various government treasuries in Bihar by making a false paper trail of purchases of fodder, medicines, equipment and other articles by the state’s animal husbandry department (AHD), according to the CBI.
The scam first surfaced in 1996 after raids at AHD offices in Chaibasa, now in Jharkhand.
CBI charges
Lalu Prasad and former MLA and chairman of the public accounts committee (PAC) Jagdish Sharma sought to protect and patronize the perpetrators of the scam and worked in tandem to get enquires scuttled and stalled whenever such issues were raisedPrasad was instrumental in the promotion and service extension of scam kingpins and AHD officials, the late Dr Ram Raj Ram and the late Dr SB Sinha
Lalu’s contentions
I have been targeted. None of the prosecution witnesses ever mentioned my involvement in their testimonyNo deputy commissioners of the districts had ever alerted about excess withdrawal from treasuries. CBI made the wrongdoers approvers (witnesses) while making the whistleblower (Lalu) the accused.

Lalu Prasad, Mishra and other accused arrived in Jharkhand’s capital Ranchi on Friday to appear in person before the court.

To meet their party chief, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) workers and supporters from Bihar and Jharkhand made a beeline to the railway guest house where Lalu Prasad is staying.

“My client has arrived in Ranchi to appear before the court on Saturday, the day fixed for the verdict,” said Prasad’s advocate Prabhat Kumar.

Lalu Prasad had suffered a major jolt on September 30, 2013 when the court held him guilty in another fodder scam case. He was give a five-year prison term, disqualified from Parliament and banned from contesting elections. He was given bail by the Supreme Court in December that year.

The case against Lalu Prasad -- which was related to the Deoghar treasury -- was revived after a Supreme Court order on May 8 this year.

The Deoghar treasury case
FIR registered by CBI: May 15, 1996 (on Patna High Court’s directive)
Interim chargesheet: October 28, 1997
Charges framed: September 26, 2005
Period of alleged offences: 1991-1994
Alleged Scam Amount: Rs 89.27 lakh
Total number of accused: 38
Accused died during trial: 11
Accused pleaded guilty before verdict: 2
Accused who faced trial: 22
Total prosecution witnesses testified: 160
Defence witnesses testified: 16

The apex court had restored the corruption charges against Lalu Prasad by quashing a 2014 order of the Jharkhand high court, which had dropped sections 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy) and 420 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 13 (1)(d) (corruption, abusing his office as public servant) of the Prevention of Corruption Act from the charges.

Since the trial began in June, Lalu Prasad had to make a personal appearance before the court almost every week in Ranchi. Even on the day when Nitish Kumar broke the alliance with the RJD on July 27, Lalu Prasad had to travel to Ranchi by road to attend court proceedings the next day.

The case, however, witnessed a curious turn in August this year when Lalu Prasad accused judge Shivpal Singh of misbehaving with a defence witness and moved the high court seeking transfer of the case to another court. The high court, however, found no merit in his petition and dismissed it.

First Published: Dec 22, 2017 21:57 IST