A CBI court in Ranchi on Saturday, Dec 23, declared Rashtriya Janta Dal (RJD) chief and former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav guilty in the two-decade old fodder scam case.
Another former chief minister of Bihar, Jagannath Mishra was acquitted in the case.
He will soon be taken into custody. The quantum of punishment would be announced on January 3, 2018.
This will be the former Bihar Chief Minister’s second term in jail in the fodder scam. The RJD chief faced five cases in the fodder scam, of which now three are pending. He had been sentenced to five years in jail and fined Rs 25 lakh for the fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 37.5 crore from the Chaibasa treasury in October 2013, but was granted bail by the Supreme Court in December 2013, after he had spent two months in jail. That, however, had cost him his Lok Sabha seat: he was disqualified from Parliament and banned from contesting elections.
When he arrived in court on this Saturday morning, Lalu sounded confident and said he was “confident that he will get justice”. A huge number of his supporters gathered in the court premises. There was a heavy deployment of police in riot gear to tackle any untoward incident.
The present case pertains to fraudulent withdrawal of more than Rs 89 lakh from Deoghar Treasury between 1991 and 1994. A charge sheet was filed against 38 persons on October 27, 1997. Eleven of them died and three turned approvers while two other accused confessed to their crime and were convicted in 2006-07, said a media report quoting a CBI official.
The CBI court found 15 people guilty in the case including Lalu Prasad Yadav while 7, including former Bihar CM Jagannath Mishra, were found innocent .
The total value of scam is estimated at Rs 900 crore, spread out over several minor scams related to the same issue. The money was defalcated from the state exchequer for fictitious medicines and fodder for cattle. The CBI started the probe in 1996.
The scam had started small, with embezzlement by lowly government employees who transferred fake funds while supposedly spending money on fictitious purchases that often were as unusual as oil to polish buffaloes’ horns.
Slowly the political hand came into the overall scenario and rate and size of embezzlement grew to large proportions.
Lalu has maintained that this is apolitical witch hunt, perpetrated by his political rivals the BJP. In the process the RJD leader’s family has lost its grip on the state’s administration as Nitish Kumar jumped ship and joined the BJP cartel.
On Saturday itself, Lalu’s daughter Misa Bharti and her husband were chargesheeted by ED in a disproportionate assets case at the Patiala House Court in Delhi. Case for money laundering was also instituted.