In a major setback to RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, the Jharkhand High Court on Monday rejected his petition seeking transfer of one of his fodder scam cases from the special CBI court (Ranchi) of Pravas Kumar Singh.
The HC decision comes even as the court is scheduled to pronounce its verdict in the multi-crore scam.
Earlier, Lalu had filed a petition before the HC seeking transfer of fodder scam case RC-20A-96 to another court, alleging that the presiding judge was a relative of senior JD(U) leader and state HRD Minister P K Shahi. The petition was filed on Lalu’s behalf by senior counsel Ram Jethmalani.
The CBI court had directed the 45 scam accused including Lalu, to complete arguments by July 1. The court had fixed July 15 to deliver the verdict in the case involving the alleged fraudulent withdrawal of `37.7 crore from the Chaibasa Treasury for the state Animal Husbandry Department.
Lalu had to resign as Bihar CM in 1997 after he was chargesheeted in the case and later remanded in judicial custody. Following this, his wife Rabri Devi ruled the state till 2005. The `950 crore scam (better known as ‘chara ghotala’) was unearthed by the CBI in the late 90s. Besides Lalu, the other prominent personalities implicated in the case included another former Chief Minister of the state Jagannath Mishra, senior JD(U) leader Jagdish Sharma and RJD leader R K Rana.
Several senior IAS officers and Animal Husbandry Department officials along with the pharma suppliers were prosecuted in connection with the embezzlement. And Lalu was listed as an accused in five out of the 61 cases of fodder scam registered by the CBI in undivided Bihar.
This is also the first case in the fodder scam in which the judgment would be pronounced. Political observers believe that a adverse judgment would create big problems for the RJD strongman as the Parliamentary polls are just round the corner.