In yet another setback to beleaguered Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) president Lalu Prasad, a special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court has announced it will pronounce its judgement in a fodder scam case on December 23.
The case which pertains to fraudulent withdrawal of Rs8.45 million (Dh482,328) from a local treasury in Deoghar district in Jharkhand state has been lingering in the court for the past 21 years. Apart from Prasad, former Bihar chief minister Jagannath Mishra and former parliamentarian Jagdish Saharma are also accused in the case.
The RJD president is an accused in a total of six multimillion dollar fodder scam cases and this is the second case in succession where the judgement will come. He already has been pronounced guilty in one case after which he was sentenced to a five-year jail term.
The judgement which came in September 2013 has completely destroyed his active political career. The conviction not only resulted in his instant disqualification from Parliament, but also a ban on contesting elections for another one decade for 69-year-old politician.
Prasad who also served as the chief minister of Bihar for six years as well as federal railway minister, suffered a serious jolt in May this year when India’s top court revived the conspiracy and fraud charges against him in other fodder scam cases stating that separate trials would go in the remaining cases while quashing the 2014 Jharkhand high court’s order in this regard.
The apex court gave its verdict on May 8 this year on a CBI plea opposing the dropping of charges against the RJD president by the Jharkhand High Court. The CBI had moved the SC after the High Court dropped conspiracy charges against Prasad in November 2014 on grounds that “a person cannot be tried twice for the same offence”.
The apex court not only set aside the ruling of the lower court but also ordered the trial court to conclude the trail within nine months. It is in the light of this SC order that the trial court is scheduled to pronounce its verdict next week.
The case took a curious turn in August this year when the RJD chief charged the trial court judge Shivpal Singh with misbehaving with one of his witnesses in the case and moved the Jharkhand High Court, seeking for transfer of the case to another court. The High Court, however, dismissed his plea finding no merit in his plea.