Lalu Prasad convicted in fodder scam case, disqualified as MP

Ranchi: A special CBI court in Ranchi has convicted RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, along with 44 others, in the Rs. 37.70 crore fodder scam case. Lalu has also been disqualified as a Lok Sabha member.

The quantum of punishment to Lalu, and the other 44 convicts, will be decided on October 3. Lalu is likely to face three to seven years in jail.

The court has found Lalu Yadav guilty in just one of the cases against him – that of criminal conspiracy, corruption and cheating. Judgement on the other five cases is awaited.

The verdict is crucial for Lalu Prasad and his future as a political leader since the central government ordinance that would have shielded tainted and convicted parliamentarians and legislators from disqualification has been put under scanner and is likely to be withdrawn.

There were a total of 56 accused in the case. But during the trial, seven accused died, two turned approver, one admitted to the crime and one was discharged.

Judge P.K. Singh had fixed July 15 as the date of verdict, and asked the remaining 45 accused to be present in the court.

Lalu Prasad moved the Jharkhand High Court and later the Supreme Court, seeking change of the judge in the case. Both the courts dismissed his petition, and directed him to complete argument in the case before the CBI court.

Lalu Prasad quit the chief minister's post in 1997 when his name figured in the CBI investigations in the scam, which surfaced in 1996.

Around 54 of the 61 cases were transferred to Jharkhand, after it was created as a separate state from Bihar in November 2000. Different CBI courts have passed judgments in more than 43 cases. Lalu Prasad and Jagannath Mishra are accused in five cases.

Yadav moved the Jharkhand High Court and later the Supreme Court, seeking change of the judge in the case. Both the courts dismissed his petition, and directed him to complete argument in the case before the CBI court.

CBI’s allegations:

Lalu and former MLA and chairman of the public accounts committee (PAC) Jagdish Sharma with a view to protect and patronize the scamsters worked in tandem to get enquirers scuttled and stalled whenever such issues were raised.

Lalu was instrumental in promoting and extending service to scam kingpins and AHD officials, Late Dr Ram Raj Ram and Late Dr SB Sinha.

Huge withdrawal was made in 1994-95. Against the budgetary allocation of Rs. 74 crore for AHD, about Rs. 245 crore was withdrawn.

Lalu has close associations with accused suppliers DN Kashyap, Mohammad Sayeed among others.

Being the CM, Lalu never initiated any action to find out the cause of such alarming excess withdrawals from AHD and thus actively connived with -- finance minister, Chandra Prasad Verma; Vidya Sagar Nishad, Late Bhola Ram Toofani, cabinet ministers of AHD; Beck Julius, Mahesh Prasad, K Arumugam, Phool Chand Singh, AHD Secretaries -- to facilitate the fraud.

20% of the billed amount goes to suppliers and 80% goes to AHD officials, government officials, ministers, CM and other politicians.

Lalu's contentions:

"I have been targeted."

"None of the prosecution witnesses (350) ever mentioned my involvement in their testimony."

Persons who were accused in original FIR were made witnesses after filing of chargesheet.

Supplier Deepesh Chandak who lapped about Rs. 300 crore out of the total Rs. 550 crore scam money, was made prime witness by CBI.

CBI made the wrongdoers the approvers (witnesses), while making whistleblower (Lalu) accused.