Ranchi court restores graft, conspiracy charges against Lalu in fodder scam case
Court move in keeping with Supreme Court ruling that said RJD chief must face trial on all charges in the remaining fodder scam casesindia Updated: Jun 09, 2017 10:46 IST
A Ranchi court restored charges of conspiracy, cheating and corruption against Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad in a fodder scam case during an unusually early morning hearing on Friday.
Prasad appeared in person before the court of special CBI judge Shivpal Singh at 6.55am, possibly in an attempt to avoid the media and a rush.
The charges were brought back in keeping with a May 8 ruling by the Supreme Court that said Prasad must be tried for the three allegations in all of the remaining fodder scam cases, rejecting his contention that a conviction in one was enough.
The fodder scam related to a systematic bleeding of public funds in Bihar between 1990 and 1995 when money was taken from the different treasuries for fictitious spends on fodder and other expenses for cattle. Six cases were filed against Prasad in the scam, with the trial in one resulting in Lalu’s conviction in 2013 that lost him his seat in Parliament.
Friday’s hearing was in connection with the fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 90 lakh from the Deoghar treasury.
The case is in the final argument stage and the Central Bureau of Investigation, the prosecution agency, expects a judgement in a couple of months.
“Are you a fool? It’s the court’s premises and I will not speak anything here,” Prasad told media personnel here on Friday while being escorted out of the court room where he waited at least for 15 minutes for the judge’s arrival.
He is understood to have been instructed by his lawyer to not speak to the media, as ordered by an earlier SC order banning Lalu from talking to the press and holding euphoric demonstrations with regard to fodder scam cases.
With folded hands, the Bihar strongman dressed in a light blue and white stripe Kurta and white pyjama wished the judge on his arrival. He was made to sign on the attendance sheet soon after he nodded in affirmative to the judge’s question whether he was aware of the SC’s order.
Prasad’s advocate Prabhat Kumar submitted to the court that his client wished to produce some defence witnesses for examination for which a list would be furnished. Granting permission, the court allowed Prasad to leave the court room.
The court restored 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 against Prasad and fixed the next date of hearing.
The three sections were dropped by the Jharkhand High Court in 2014 but the SC quashed that order in response to a CBI appeal on May 8.
Prasad also appeared before another CBI court to register his attendance as an accused in another fodder scam case. This one was related to withdrawal of Rs 139 crore from Doranda treasury.