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No Double Jeopardy, Lalu to be Tried for Conspiracy in Fodder Scam, Rules SC

RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav suffered a major setback on Monday as the Supreme Court ruled that the former Bihar CM would stand trial for conspiracy charges in the fodder scam case.

Debayan Roy | News18.com

Updated:May 8, 2017, 3:06 PM IST
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New Delhi: A two-judge bench of the Supreme Court on Monday dealt a big blow to RJD supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav as it revived criminal conspiracy charges against him along with others, including former Bihar chief minister Jagannath Mishra and ex-top bureaucrat Sajal Chakraborty, in the Rs 900 crore fodder scam case.

A bench of Justices Arun Kumar Misra and Amitava Roy had reserved the verdict on April 20 after hearing all the parties. Monday’s verdict came on an appeal by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) against a Jharkhand High Court order which had dropped the charges of criminal conspiracy against Lalu Yadav. The HC had ruled citing the law on double jeopardy that once a person has been convicted or acquitted, he cannot be tried for the same offence again.

ALSO READ | Fodder Scam: All You Need to Know About the Multi-crore Case

The CBI had filed an appeal against the HC order in the apex court eight months after the verdict, seeking a separate trial. On Monday, the apex court set aside the HC order and said that the RJD chief will be tried separately for each case.

The two-judge bench also ruled that the trial has to be completed within nine months.

Lalu Yadav was convicted earlier in a separate case in the fodder scam, which was a part of a 20-year-old racket to sweep out public money to the tune of Rs 900 crore. Yadav was given a five-year sentence and was disqualified from Parliament. He was also banned from contesting elections.

Monday’s ruling also came as a fresh trouble for Nitish Kumar-led alliance government in Bihar, which has been charged with letting the Yadav clan get away with corruption and illegal activities.

This fodder scam came to light in 1996. In September 2013, a special CBI court in Ranchi had convicted Lalu Yadav along with 44 others over an unlawful withdrawal of Rs 37.70 crore from Chaibasa Treasury in a bid to carry out embezzlement of funds in the name of medicines and fodder for the cattle.

The Jharkhand High Court order, which was replaced on Monday by the apex court, had dropped charges against Prasad under the Indian Penal Code.

ALSO READ | Nitish Govt on the Defensive After Lalu's 'Telecon' With Jailed Don Shahabuddin

The only trial that was permitted against Prasad was to be carried out under Section 201 of the IPC ( for causing disappearance of evidence of an offence committed or giving false information) and Section 511 (attempting to commit offences punishable with imprisonment for life or imprisonment, and in such attempt doing any act towards the commission of the offence).

The CBI, however, challenged this in the SC and submitted that HC order was wrong as there were different FIRs registered against the RJD chief which amounted to separate conspiracies, hence merited different trials.

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| Edited by: Huma Tabassum
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