Fodder scam: Temporary relief for Lalu Prasad Yadav

New Delhi, July 23(ANI): There was good news for Rashtriya Janata Dal leader and former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav on Tuesday, when the Supreme Court of India provided him with a breather by saying it is willing to transfer another judge to one of the cases pertaining to the multi-crore fodder scam where he is the prime accused.

Yadav is alleged to have had a role in the embezzlement of over Rs. 37 crore in the scam as Bihar's chief minister.

The Supreme Court gave this direction after the litigant had expressed apprehensions about the intent of the judge in announcing the judgment in an impartial manner in the case.

"A very subtle kind of influence might have come on the judge," the court observed today.

The demand for the judge's change came in after the Jharkhand High Court dismissed a petition on July 1 filed by the RJD leader, which led to Yadav alleging that the judge was biased against him as the he was a relative of the Janata Dal United leader and state Education Minister P K Sahi. There were allegations that the judge was also related to the complainant Rajiv Rangh Lalan in the case.

"The (apex court) judges today stated prima facie that the case could be transferred to another judge apart from this one particular judge. But the judges also stated that if the parties give any judge's name by consent then the case can be transferred to them. Otherwise the next course of action would be decided the next time. The next hearing would be on August 6. Till then the hearing has been stayed so that the current judge does not order any action in the case. He has been given a stay of proceedings," said P. H. Parekh, Yadav's counsel.

Earlier, the apex court had also issued a notice to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) over the allegations made by Yadav.

"The jurisprudence of transfer is that it does not matter if the judge is right or wrong. If the litigant has a reasonable apprehension that there is no hope of justice from that particular judge, then the Supreme Court has the right to transfer the judge," Parekh said earlier today.

Yadav is one of the 46 accused persons in the fodder scam case, pertaining to fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 37.7 crore from the Chaibasa Treasury in Singhbhum District of eastern Bihar between 1992 and 1995.

Besides Prasad, former Bihar chief minister Jagannath Mishra, senior government officials, including IAS officers, and fodder suppliers were to appear before the court on the date.

As of May 31 this year, verdicts were delivered in 44 of the 53 cases in the Rs 950 crore fodder scam, which was unearthed during the undivided Bihar regime.

The fodder scam also known as "Chara Ghotala". involved the siphoning of funds from the Bihar Government treasury.

The alleged theft spanned over several years, and many Bihar state government administrative and elected officials across multiple administrations were allegedly engaged in it.

Additionally, there are also allegations that they were involved in the fabrication of "vast herds of fictitious livestock" for which fodder, medicines and animal husbandry equipment was supposedly procured.

The fodder scam was unearthed in Bihar in 1996 when Lalu Prasad was the Chief Minister of the state. He had resigned from the post in 1997 after a court issued an arrest warrant against him in connection with one of the cases. (ANI)