Ranchi: A special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court on Saturday found former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad guilty in a fodder scam case.
Fourteen others have also been found guilty, while seven accused have been acquitted, including former Bihar CM Jagannath Mishra.The court is scheduled to pronounce quantum of sentence on January 3, 2018 for the 15 guilty including Lalu Prasad.
Lalu has been convicted in the case relating to embezzling of more than Rs. 89 lakh from the Deoghar Treasury between 1991 and 1994. Apart from Lalu, Mishra and 20 others accused were present in the court of special CBI judge Shivpal Singh.
Justice Singh had completed hearing the case on December 13 and asked all accused in the case to remain present in court for the judgment.
There were tight security arrangements outside the court ahead of the verdict. Before the judgment, Lalu told reporters: “I am confident, will get justice.”
Lalu has already been convicted in another fodder scam- Chaibasa treasury- case in which he is out on bail but the conviction cost him his Lok Sabha seat. He has been disqualified from contesting elections. The Chaibasa treasury case in the 1990s involves fraudulent withdrawal to the tune of Rs 37.7 crore.
The fodder scam involved the embezzlement of about Rs 900 crore from the Bihar exchequer. The corruption scheme involved the fabrication of ‘vast herds of fictitious livestock for which fodder, medicines and animal husbandry equipment was supposedly procured over a period of 20 years’.
Among those implicated in the theft and arrested were then Chief Ministers of Bihar Lalu Prasad and Jagannath Mishra. Both Prasad and Mishra are accused in five fodder scam cases.
Of the 34 people initially accused in the case, 11 died during the course of trial, while one turned approver and admitted to the crime.
The scam came to light in 1996. On January 27, 1996, the deputy commissioner of West Singhbhum district, Amit Khare conducted a raid on the offices of the animal husbandry department in the town of Chaibasa in the district under his authority.
The documents his team seized and went public with, conclusively indicated large-scale embezzlement by an organised mafia of officials and businessmen. In June 1997, the CBI filed chargesheets against Prasad and 55 other co-accused.
The accused had 63 cases registered against them under three sections: IPC Sections 420 (forgery) and 120 (b) (criminal conspiracy) and Section 13 (b) of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
Due to the pressure of the ruling Janata Dal, Prasad had to quit as the chief minister in 1997 but he formed another party, Rashtriya Janata Dal, and made his wife Rabri Devi the chief minister.
A Disproportionate Assets (DA) case was also registered against Lalu in 1998, with Rabri Devi being named as a co-accused for abetting the crime. A special CBI court in Ranchi acquitted both Lalu and his wife on December 18, 2006 in the DA case. Bihar Veterinary Association for the first time exposed Animal Husbandry Mafia in its 1985 Press Conference.