Ghosts of fodder scam haunt Lalu

The scam had led to sitting legislators losing their Assembly and parliamentary seats and Lalu being debarred from contesting the elections

Published: 12th May 2017 08:06 PM  |   Last Updated: 12th May 2017 08:06 PM   |  A+A-

RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav (File | PTI)

By Express News Service

The Supreme Court on Monday directed a fresh trial of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Lalu Prasad Yadav, former Bihar chief minister Jagannath Mishra, and other accused in a criminal case involving the withdrawal of money and falsification of records from the Deoghar Treasury in connection with the Rs 900 crore fodder scam, by setting aside the Jharkhand High Court’s verdict in 2014.

The scam—a set of 55 cases--involved politicians and bureaucrats belonging to successive administration siphoning of several crores of rupees on the pretext of purchasing livestock feed over a period of 20 years. The corruption scheme involved the fabrication of “vast herds of fictitious livestock” for which fodder, medicines and animal husbandry equipment was supposedly procured. Although the scandal broke in 1996, the theft had been in progress, and increased in size, for over two decades.

The first FIR in the fodder cases was registered on January 24, 1996, after then West Singhbhum deputy commissioner Amit Khare detected that H37.70 cr had been fraudulently withdrawn from the Chaibasa treasury which now a part of Jharkhand. FIRs in the other cases were subsequently registered in other police stations across Bihar.

As it became evident that Yadav would be engulfed in the scandal and its prosecution, demands for him to be removed from the chief ministership had gained momentum both from other parties, as well as within his own party, the Janata Dal.

On 5 July, Yadav formally parted ways with the Janata Dal and formed his own party, the RJD, taking with him virtually all the Janata Dal legislators in the Bihar State Assembly, and winning a vote of confidence in the Assembly a few days later. However, the RJD continued to support the coalition federal government. With demands for his resignation continuing to mount, on 25 July, Laloo resigned from his position, but was able to install his wife, Rabri Devi as the new chief minister on the same day.

In July 1997, Rabri’s new government won another vote of confidence in the Bihar legislature by 194–110, thanks to the Congress and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha parties voting in alignment with the RJD.

As the CBI discovered further evidence over the following years, it filed additional cases related to fraud and criminal conspiracy based on specific criminal acts of illegal withdrawals from the Bihar treasury.

Most new cases filed after the division of Bihar state (into the new Bihar and Jharkhand states) in November 2000 were filed in the new Jharkhand High Court located in Ranchi, and several cases previously filed in the Patna High Court in Patna were also transferred to Ranchi.

Yadav was named as an accused in six cases — four in Jharkhand and two in Bihar. While three of the Jharkhand cases are pending trial, he has been acquitted in one of the Bihar cases and the trial in the other is pending. So he has four pending cases in all and it’s in these cases  that the Supreme Court wants Yadav to stand trial

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