In a huge setback for Lalu Prasad Yadav, The Supreme Court on Monday allowed a plea by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) opposing dropping of charges against Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad Yadav by Jharkhand High Court in the fodder scam case.
The apex court ruled on Monday that Lalu's trial for corruption during his term as Bihar Chief Minister must be completed within nine months. The court also rejected the RJD chief's request for more grave charges including criminal conspiracy to be deleted.
In a relief to the former Bihar Chief Minister, the Jharkhand High Court had in 2014 dropped charges of criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust and prevention of corruption against him and others.
The cases were quashed on the grounds that a person convicted in one case could not be tried in similar cases based on same witnesses and evidences.
But the CBI had contended that the cases arising from fodder scam were different in nature as different amounts were involved from different treasuries.
On April 20, the apex court and the CBI had reserved its order after hearing arguments by Lalu's lawyer Ram Jethmalani.
Lalu had been charged in several cases related to the fodder scam, which involved embezzlement of Rs 900 crore from the state exchequer for fictitious medicines and fodder for cattle over a period of 20 years. It was in 1996 when the matter came to light.
Lalu was convicted in one of the cases on charges of embezzling Rs 37 crore in October 2013 but got bail from the Supreme Court in December 2013.
The apex court, while setting aside the 2014 order which had stayed the trial against Yadav after conviction in one of the cases, said the high court should have been consistent in its findings and not have given different views for different sets of accused in a case.
It also pulled up the CBI for delay in filing appeal against the high court order in the case and said the probe agency’s director should have looked into this important matter and deputed an officer to pursue the case.
The CBI has challenged the 2014 order of the Jharkhand High Court quashing four pending fodder scam cases against him on the grounds that a person convicted in one case could not be tried in similar cases based on same witnesses and evidences.
(With PTI inputs)