This has come as a huge setback to Lalu Prasad Yadav. The Supreme Court on earlier today revived criminal conspiracy charges against the Rashtriya Janata Dal chief in fodder scam cases. Prasad will be tried separately in each of the four fodder scam cases. The judgement will have big impact on Bihar politics.
The Supreme Court order came at a time when Lalu Prasad is already in a tight spot after he was shown in an audio conversation with Mohammad Shahabuddin. In the audio tape, aired on Republic TV, the mafia don is heard passing on instructions to the RJD chief from the comfort zone of the jail.
The fodder scam dates back to the year 1996 when Lalu Prasad was the Chief Minister of the undivided Bihar. The case in which the top court gave its judgement pertains to fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 96 lakhs from Chaibasa (now in Jharkhand) treasury during his chief ministerial tenure. This was part of the whopping Rs 900 crores fraudulent withdrawals from Bihar government exchequer by showing fake purchase of fodder for cattle. Former Bihar Chief Minister Jagannath Mishra and former state chief secretary Sajal Chakraborty are among 43 accused in the scam.
A two-judge Supreme Court Bench comprising of Justices Arun Mishra and Amitava Roy directed the trial court to complete the proceedings against Yadav and others within a stipulated nine-month period. The Supreme Court Bench held that for each offence there will be a separate trial.
In September 2013, a special CBI court in Ranchi had sentenced Lalu Prasad to five years imprisonment in connection with one of the cases in fodder scam. With that order, Lalu lost his Lok Sabha membership and was barred from contesting elections for six years. In November, 2014, Jharkhand High Court dropped conspiracy charges against Lalu Prasad.
While setting aside the 2014 Jharkhand High Court order, the Supreme Court today said that the High Court should have been consistent in its findings and not have given different views for different sets of accused in a case. The Apex court also pulled up the CBI for delay in filing the appeal against the High Court order in the case.
Of the 55 cases filed in connection with the fodder scam, Lalu Prasad is an accused in five cases. The cases are at their various stages of trail. Lalu is facing simultaneous trails for fraudulent withdrawal – from Chaibasa treasury, Bhagalpur treasury, Doranda treasury, Dumka treasury, Deoghar treasury – for fake fodder purchase during his tenure as the Bihar Chief Minister.