Uncertainty gripped Bihar politics and the proposed future grand alliance of opposition parties after the Supreme Court revived the trial of four pending Fodder Scam cases against Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief and former Bihar Chief Minister Lalu Yadav. The RJD leader is already a convict in the case and barred from contesting elections. However, Lalu has been exerting his political influence in Bihar as well as outside. The outcome of the cases, however, would have a big impact on the future of Lalu, Bihar politics and RJD.
Here are 10 important points about the journey of the cases since 1996:
1. Fodder Scam case dates back to mid-1990s and involves embezzlement of around Rs 1000 crore from the Bihar government treasury during Lalu’s tenure as Bihar CM between 1990-97. Some estimates say the total public money embezzled in the scam was Rs 945 crore.
2. On January 27, 1996, Rs 950-crore fodder scam came to light during a raid on the offices of Animal Husbandry department – under which money for agricultural support programmes was stolen – in Chaibasa. The scam involved a large-scale embezzlement of public funds for fake purchase and supply of cattle fodder in Bihar in 1990s.
3. On March 11, 1996, Patna High Court ordered CBI to probe the fodder scam cases. The CBI made a formal request to Bihar Governor to prosecute Lalu on May 10, 1997. The then Bihar Governor permitted prosecution of Lalu and others in the case on June 17, 1997. Following this on June 23, 1997, the CBI filed chargesheets against Lalu and 55 other co-accused. As many as 63 cases were registered under IPC Sections 420 (forgery) and 120 (b) (criminal conspiracy) and Section 13 (b) of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
4.On July 30, 1997, Lalu surrendered before a court after resigning as Bihar Chief Minister following the multi-crore fodder scam. Later a disproportionate Assets case registered against Lalu. On April 4, 2000, Lalu was chargesheeted and the name of his wife Rabri Devi was included as a co-accused. Lalu and Rabri surrendered before CBI court on April 5, 2000. While Rabri got bail, Lalu was sent to jail.
5.CBI court framed charges against former chief ministers Lalu Prasad Yadav and Jagannath Mishra, JD-U’s Jehanabad MP Jagdish Sharma and 31 others in connection with fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 46 lakh from Banka and Bhagalpur treasuries against “forged bills” on On March 1, 2012. The development took place nine years after a chargesheet was filed against 44 people in one of the cases related to the around Rs 1000-crore fodder scam.
6.On May 31, 2007, Lalu Yadav’s nephews were among the 58 people convicted and awarded jail terms of 5-6 years each. These included two former regional directors of Animal Husbandry Department Junul Bhengraj and Raja Ram and four suppliers — Rakesh Mehra, Sanjay Kumar, Nagendra Yadav and Virendra Yadav.
7. On October 5, 2001, the fodder scam cases were transferred to Jharkhand by Supreme Court after the creation of the new state a year back. The arguments in the case concluded on November 23, 2006. In August 2013, Lalu had approached the Supreme Court, seeking transfer of the trial court judge hearing the fodder scam case. The apex court rejected the request.
8. Lalu convicted: On September 30, 2013, Lalu Prasad Yadav along with 44 others convicted by a CBI court in the fodder scam. Lalu ceased to be Member of Parliament after the verdict.
9. In 2014, the Jharkhand High Court quashed four pending fodder scam cases against Lalu Yadav on the grounds that a person convicted in one case could not be tried in similar cases based on same witnesses and evidence. However, the Supreme Court on May 8, 2017, revived the around Rs 1000-crore fodder scam case. The SC also ordered a separate trial of each offense or four cases registered against the former Bihar CM.
10. Effect on Bihar Grand Alliance: Janata Dal (United) on Tuesday said restart of fodder scam cases against Lalu Yadav will not affect the ruling Grand Alliance in Bihar. “This controversy won’t impact our alliance with the RJD in the state,” JD (U) leader Ali Anwar told ANI, adding, “that whatever the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) wants in the state, will not be fulfilled. This comes after the Centre came down heavily on Nitish Kumar and questioned the Bihar Chief Minister’s silence over the ‘historic judgement’ in the fodder scam case”.