Fodder scam: Lalu wants to examine 36 witnesses in his defence
Prasad appeared in person before the court of special judge Shivpal Singh on Thursday and submitted a list of 36 defence witnesses. He urged the court to allow him to examine these witnesses to prove his innocence. Examination of defence witnesses is a later stage of trialUpdated: Jun 24, 2017 20:40 IST
Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad on Thursday appeared in person before a Ranchi CBI court and submitted a list of 36 witnesses that he wanted to examine in his defence in one of the fodder scam cases related to fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 90 lakh from the Deoghar treasury.
The instant case is in the final argument stage. Barring Prasad and former Bihar chief minister Jagannath Mishra, all stages of trial proceedings have been completed with respect to other 29 accused involved in the case.
Trial proceedings against Prasad and Mishra were closed after the Jharkhand high court discharged the two from the case in 2014. But, the Supreme Court, on May 8 this year, had quashed the high court’s order reinstating the charges against Prasad and Mishra.
The special CBI court, thereafter, reopened the trial against both the accused.
Prasad appeared in person before the court of special judge Shivpal Singh on Thursday and submitted a list of 36 defence witnesses. He urged the court to allow him to examine these witnesses to prove his innocence. Examination of defence witnesses is a later stage of trial.
The CBI, the prosecuting agency, however, raised objections contending that Prasad intentionally prepared a voluminous list of defence witnesses, which was not required. This was a ploy to delay the ongoing trial, the CBI argued.
The court, however, rejected the CBI’s contention and allowed Prasad to produce these witnesses in a group of five on each date of hearing. The court fixed June 29 and 30 as the next dates of hearing.
“Prasad will appear in person on the next dates of hearing as well. If any exigencies come in the way, we will seek court’s permission for exemption of his personal appearance,” Prasad’s advocate Prabhat Kumar said. He added that the court, on his client’s request, had issued summons to five defence witnesses who would be examined on June 29.
Meanwhile, the court recorded the statement of former Bihar chief minister Jagannath Mishra’s statement as accused under the provisions of Section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure in the same case.
The court recorded Mishra’s statements in response to allegations levelled against him in the case. The CBI had alleged that Mishra, being a leader of the opposition in Bihar assembly in 1993, had recommended granting of two-year extension of service to fodder scam kingpin the late S B Sinha and thus conspired in the loot of public money. Sinha was later granted service extension during Prasad’s chief ministerial tenure.
Mishra said he never ignored legal parameters and had acted in accordance with law. “Being a public representative, many people came to me with their problems,” Mishra said, adding, “I had written letters to appropriate authorities for redressal of their problems but in each letter I had specifically asked the authorities to take action in accordance with law.”
The fodder scam relates 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 and Mishra in the scam, with the trial in one resulting in the duo’s conviction in 2013 that lost Prasad his seat in Parliament.
First Published: Jun 24, 2017 20:40 IST