In a setback to Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad, the Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed his petition seeking transfer of his trial in the multi-crore fodder scam case in a Jharkhand court to another judge. While rejecting Lalu’s petition, the apex court said that the argument are incomplete it gives five days to the prosecution and 15 days to other accused to complete their argument and thereafter the trial judge will pronounce the verdict.
A bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam had on July 9 restrained the trial court from passing the judgement in fodder scam case.
The bench, also comprising justices Ranjana Desai and Ranjan Gogoi, said that it was not inclined to entertain the allegations levelled against the judge and vacated its stay on the trial court proceedings. The bench had earlier virtually agreed to transfer the judge and had asked the CBI and Lalu’s counsel to name an
alternate judge to hear the case.
The apex court had on July 23 said it would pass order either directing the High Court to appoint a new judge or would itself do so if there is consensus among the parties on name of the judge who is to hear the case. It had also asked the parties to evolve a consensus on the name of the judge by August 6.
However, on the next date of hearing, the bench refrained from passing any order in view of stiff opposition from JD(U) leader Rajiv Ranjan who had submitted that it would be a “travesty of justice” if the judge is transferred at the fag end of the trial.
Ranjan, on whose plea the Jharkhand High Court is monitoring the probe in the fodder scam, had submitted that it would give a wrong impression to the entire country if the judge is transferred and raised a question on Lalu’s petition seeking transfer of the judge who has been hearing the case since 2011.
Lalu had in his petition alleged that trial court judge PK Singh is biased against him as he is a relative of PK Sahi, Education Minister in the government of Nitish Kumar in Bihar, “who is his (Lalu’s) biggest political enemy”.
Lalu approached the apex court after the Jharkhand High Court had on July 1 dismissed his plea to transfer the case to another special CBI court from that of Special CBI Judge PK Singh.
The case pertains to alleged fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 37.7 crore from Chaibasa Treasury in the 1990s. The FIR was lodged by Bihar government in February 1996 but the case was transferred to CBI a month later.
The CBI had investigated the scam for a year and the charge sheet was filed in 1997. The charges were framed in 2000 following which the Special CBI court commenced trial against Lalu Prasad and 44 other accused. RJD’s plea had faced stiff opposition from JD(U) leader Rajiv Ranjan who submitted it would be a “travesty of justice” if the judge is transferred at the fag end of the trial.
He submitted it would give a wrong impression to the entire country if the judge is transferred and raised a question on RJD supremo’s petition seeking transfer of the judge who has been hearing the case since 2011.