Ranchi: In a major setback to the RJD, a special CBI court today convicted former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad and 15 others in a fodder scam case 21 years after it had surfaced, while acquitting six others including another former chief minister Jagannath Mishra.
Special judge Shivpal Singh pronounced the verdict in a packed courtroom in the case pertaining to fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 89.27 lakh from the Deoghar Treasury between 1991 and 1994. The court will pronounce the quantum of sentence on 3 January.
Sixty-nine-year-old Lalu Prasad, who heads the RJD, and other convicts were taken into custody immediately after the pronouncement of the verdict. Lalu Prasad’s son Tejaswi Yadav, who is the Leader of Opposition in the Bihar Assembly, was present in the court.
Lalu Prasad and other convicted in the fodder scam case were then whisked off to Birsa Munda jail, where security has been tightened, CBI sources said.
The special court acquitted 80-year-old Jagannath Mishra and five others — former Public Accounts Committee chairman Druv Bhagat, former Indian Revenue Service officer A C Choudhary, fodder suppliers Saraswati Chandra and Sadhana Singh and former minister Vidya Sagar Nishad.
Besides Lalu Prasad, the court convicted political leaders Jagdish Sharma and R K Rana, IAS officers Beck Julius, Phoolchand Singh and Mahesh Prasad, and government officials Krishna Kumar and Subir Bhattacharya. The others are suppliers/transporters Tripurari Mohan Prasad, Sushil Kumar Sinha, Sunil Kumar Sinha, Raja Ram Joshi, Gopinath Das, Sanjay Agarwal, Jyoti Kumar Jha and Sunil Gandhi.
In 1996, the Patna High Court ordered an inquiry into the fodder scam cases and a charge sheet in the Deogarh treasury case was filed against 38 people on October 27, 1997. Eleven of them died and three turned approvers while two other accused confessed and were convicted in 2006-07, a CBI official said.
Soon after the verdict, a post on Lalu Prasad’s Twitter handle read, “Powerful people and powerful classes always managed to divide society into ruling and the ruled classes.
And whenever anyone from the lower hierarchy challenged this unjust order, they would be deliberately punished.”
“Had people like Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Baba Saheb Ambedkar failed in their efforts, history would have treated them as villains. They still are villains for the biased, racist and casteist minds. No one should expect any different treatment,” adds another tweet.
On September 30, 2013, Yadav, Jagannath Mishra and several others had been convicted in another case pertaining to illegal withdrawal of Rs 37.7 crore from Chaibasa Treasury in the early 1990s. Today’s conviction is the second in the scam.
Yadav faces another four fodder scam cases for illegal withdrawal of Rs 3.97 crore from the Dumka Treasury, Rs 36 crore from the Chaibasa Treasury, Rs 184 crore from the Doranda treasury and Rs 45 lakh from Bhagalpur treasury.
The case was on excess withdrawal from Deoghar treasury.