Ranchi: A special CBI court today fixed 30 September as the date of the judgement for 45 accused, including former Bihar Chief Minister Lalu Prasad, after the RJD chief completed his arguments in a case related to the fodder scam in which he is accused.
The court of Pravas Kumar Singh heard the arguments of Prasad's counsel Surendra Singh before reserving the judgement in the case which is regarding the fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 37.7 crore from Chaibasa treasury in the early 1990s.
Prasad's advocate contended that the entire prosecution against his client was illegal because the then governor sanctioned prosecution order against the RJD chief without taking the sanction of the Cabinet. The CBI rejected the argument saying it was not necessary for the governor to take the sanction order from Cabinet.
Special courts have already pronounced judgements in 44 out of the 53 cases related to the scam.
During the course of day-to-day arguments which began on 9 September, Prasad's advocate claimed his client did not know about the scam till 1996.
The counsel told the court that the former Bihar chief minister was the person who had issued directions to lodge FIR and take action against the guilty soon after he learnt about it on 21 January that year after getting the preliminary report of the probe conducted by the then Finance Commissioner VS Dubey.
Putting up a strong defence, he claimed his client's non-involvement in the case was reflected in the fact that 41 FIRs had been lodged as per his directions in connection with fraudulent withdrawal of funds from different treasuries in undivided Bihar.
Rejecting the CBI's contention that Prasad was in the know of the Rs 950 crore scam in the early years of 1990s itself, the advocate referred to the recent Supreme Court observations equating the CBI with a caged parrot and claimed the analogy fitted exactly in his client's case as he was deliberately framed at the behest of the erstwhile governments.
Prasad had to begin arguments from September 9 after the Supreme Court had turned down his request to move the trial from the current special court to another court due to the possibility of a political conspiracy.
Besides fodder suppliers, other accused in this case are IAS officers Mahesh Prasad, Phoolchand Singh, Beck Juleus, K Armugam and Income Tax officer A C Choudhary.
Former Bihar Chief Minister Jagannath Mishra, former Bihar AHD Minister Vidya Sagar Nishar, R K Rana and Dhruv Bhagat were among the accused in this case.
Rana and Bhagat were already convicted in one case related to the fodder scam in May.
When the fodder scam was unearthed in Chaibasa Treasury after Rs 37.7 crore was allegedly withdrawn by producing fake bills during Lalu Prasad's chief ministership in Bihar, Yadav had ordered an Assembly Committee to probe the matter.
Following the delay in the report, , a PIL was filed in the Patna High Court by Shivanand Tiwari, Saryu Roy, Rajiv Ranjan Singh stating that the Public Accounts Committee should investigate it. Ravi Shankar Prasad argued for the petitioners.
The Patna High Court had on 11 March, 1996 passed an order to transfer the investigations of the Rs 950 crore fodder scam cases to the Central Bureau of Investigations.
A total of 60,000 documents against each of the accused were filed with the charge sheet and brought to Ranchi from Patna in a phased manner. By 1999 all the documents and accused were before the court.
On 5 April, 2000 charges against all the accused were framed by CBI in the court of S K Lal. By December, 2000, as many as 47 witnesses were examined.
A total of 350 witnesses were examined on behalf of the prosecution and it closed its case on 2 January, 2012.
In March 2012 the statements of all the witnesses were recorded again.
Barring Prasad and Jagdish Sharma, all other accused concluded their defence in October 2012. Thereafter, Prasad and Sharma started producing their defence witnesses.
In the process they wanted to examine a witness who has settled in Thailand. To save time, the prosecution told the court that it would admit whatever papers the defence submitted. Judge AK Pathak took over the trial from Judge SK Lal.
After Jharkhand's bifurcation on 15 November, 2000, litigations were brought before the Supreme Court questioning whether the Patna High Court had the jurisdiction to try the cases in this part of the undivided Bihar and the trial was stayed between December 2000 and December 2001.
In November 2001, the SC said that trial would be conducted by special courts in Ranchi. The truck loads of records were then transferred to Ranchi, which took about three months.
Seven special courts commenced the trials in Ranchi from March 2002.
Lalu Prasad's defence was to present its case from 15 May and his counsel examined 29 witnesses.
But when the defence continued to skip dates, the court fixed 15 July as the date to deliver the judgement and asked the accused to complete arguments by 1 July.
Subsequently, Prasad moved to the Supreme Court pleading shifting his case from the court arguing there was a political conspiracy against him, an argument which the apex court struck down.