A special CBI court today fixed September 30 as the judgement day for 45 accused, including Lalu Prasad, after the RJD chief completed his arguments in a fodder case.
The court of Pravas Kumar Singh heard the arguments of Prasad’s counsel Surendra Singh before reserving the judgement in the case pertaining to fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 37.7 crore from Chaibasa treasury in the early 1990s.
Prasad’s advocate contended that the entire prosecution against his client was illegal because the then governor sanctioned prosecution order against the RJD chief without taking the sanction of the Cabinet – an argument the CBI rejected saying it was not necessary for the governor to take the sanction order from Cabinet.
The special courts have already pronounced judgements in 44 out of 53 fodder cases over the years.
During the course of day-to-day arguments which began on September 9, Prasad’s advocate claimed his client did not know about the scam till 1996.
The counsel told the court that the former Bihar chief minister was the person who had issued directions to lodge FIR and take action against the guilty soon after he learnt about it on January 21 that year after getting the preliminary report probed by the then Finance Commissioner V.S Dubey.
Putting up a strong defence claiming his client’s non-involvement in the case reflected in the fact that 41 FIRs had been lodged on his direction in connection with fraudulent withdrawal of funds from different treasuries in undivided Bihar.
Rejecting the CBI’s contention that Prasad was in the know of the Rs 950 crore scam in the early years of 1990s itself, the advocate referred to the recent Supreme Court observations equating the CBI with a caged parrot and claimed the analogy fitted exactly in his client’s case as he was deliberately framed at the behest of the erstwhile governments.
Prasad had to begin arguments from September 9 after the Supreme Court had turned down his request to change the current special court to another court after the accused apprehended political conspiracy.
Besides fodder suppliers, other accused in this case are IAS officers Mahesh Prasad, Phoolchand Singh, Beck Juleus, K Armugam and Income Tax officer A.C Choudhary.
Former Bihar Chief Minister Jagannath Mishra, former Bihar AHD Minister Vidya Sagar Nishar, R.K Rana and Dhruv Bhagat were among the accused in this case.
Rana and Bhagat were already convicted in one fodder scam cases in May.
When the fodder scam was unearthed in Chaibasa Treasury after Rs 37.7 crore was allegedly withdrawn by producing fake bills during Lalu Prasad’s chief ministership in Bihar, Yadav had ordered an Assembly Committee with Dhruv Bhagat and Jagdish Sharma as members.
Following the delay in the report stating that the Public Accounts Committee should investigate it, a PIL was filed in the Patna High Court by Shivanand Tiwari, Saryu Roy, Rajiv Ranjan Singh and Ravi Shankar Prasad being the advocate.
The Patna High Court had on March 11, 1996 passed an order to transfer the investigations of the Rs 950 crore fodder scam cases to the Central Bureau of Investigations.