Jailed former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad was convicted by a special CBI court of criminal conspiracy, corruption and other charges in the fourth fodder scam case while another ex-chief minister Jagannath Mishra was acquitted. CBI judge Shiv Pal Singh held guilty the 69-year-old RJD chief along with 18 others. Mishra was among 12 acquitted in the case RC 38 A/96 pertaining to fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 3.13 crore from Dumka treasury in the early 1990s. The charges against the convicted persons are 120 B (criminal conspiracy), 409 (misappropriation), 420 (cheating), 467 (forgery), 468 (forgery for the purpose of cheating), 471 (using forged documents as genuine), 477A/IPC and section 13 (2) with 13 (i) c &d of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 (misuse of official position for pecuniary advantage by the public servant and others). Emerging out of the court, Prasad told reporters he did not wish to make any comment, while party vice president Raghubansh Prasad Singh said that they would challenge the order in the high court. The judge will hear arguments on the quantum of sentence from March 21, according to a CBI counsel.
Today’s decision is the fourth conviction for Prasad in fodder scam cases pertaining to illegal withdrawal of money from government treasury in 1990s in the undivided Bihar when RJD was in power and Prasad the chief minister. Prasad has been in Birsa Munda jail at Ranchi since December 23 last year after being convicted in the second case pertaining to illegal withdrawal of money from Deogarh treasury.
Earlier, the RJD supremo was convicted on September 30, 2013 in the RC 20A/96 case of Chaibasa pertaining to illegal withdrawal of Rs 37.7 crore in the 1990s. He got five years prison term in the case following which he was disqualified from the Lok Sabha and barred from contesting elections for six years after completion of jail term. There were a total of 47 accused in the fourth fodder scam. Fourteen of them had died during the course of trial while two turned approvers. “Koi comment nahi karna hai (I do not have to make any comment),” the RJD chief said to mediapersons waiting outside the court here. In the second case, Prasad was convicted in the RC64A/96 in connection with fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 89.27 lakh from Deoghar Treasury in the 1990s. He was awarded 3.5 years sentence in the case on December 23 last year.
In another Chaibasa case, RC 68A/96 pertaining to Rs 37.62 crore Prasad got five years prison term on January 24 this year. On the other hand, Jagannath Mishra was acquitted in two fodder cases while being convicted in two cases. In today’s verdict by the special CBI court, former Public Accounts Committee Chairmen Jagdish Sharma and Dhruv Bhagat, ex-MLA R K Rana, former Bihar minister Vidya Sagar Nishad were also acquitted in the case.
Former Income Tax Commissioner A C Choudhary, former IAS officers Beck Julius and Mahesh Prasad and former divisional commissioner M C Subarno were among the ex-government officials who were acquitted. Another former IAS official Phool Chand Singh was convicted along with some former AHD officials and transporters. The fifth case relating to fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 139 crore from the Doranda treasury in Ranchi is pending with the court. Lalu Prasad’s RJD saw a political revival after it won the Bihar Assembly election in 2015 as part of the Grand Alliance which included the JD(U) and the Congress. However, in July last year, Nitish Kumar-led JD(U) walked out of the alliance and formed a government with its former ally BJP.