RJD Chief Lalu Prasad to be tried in all cases separately in multi-crore fodder scam case

The Supreme Court on 8 May 2017 ordered initiation of criminal conspiracy charges against Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad in the Rs 900 crore fodder scam case. Other accused of the case will also face separate trials. Other accused of the case include Jagannath Mishra and ex-top bureaucrat Sajal Chakraborty. The court also directed to complete the trial within nine months. The order was passed by the apex court bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra while hearing the appeal filed by the CBI that opposed the dropping of criminal conspiracy charges by the Jharkhand High Court against the former Bihar Chief Minister.

The CBI had registered a number of cases against Lalu Prasad and others for embezzlement of funds on the pretext of buying fodder for the cattle. The Jharkhand High Court in 2014 had given relief to the convicts by dropping the charges of criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust and prevention of corruption. The High Court had quashed the cases on the grounds that a person convicted in one case could not be tried in similar cases based on same witnesses and evidence.

However, the CBI had gone on appeal in the Supreme Court and contended before it that though the cases have arisen from the fodder scam, they are different in nature as different amounts were involved from different treasuries. The Supreme Court, while announcing the verdict also said Jharkhand High Court should have been consistent in its findings and should not have given different views for different sets of accused in a case. The Supreme Court also pulled up CBI for the delay in filing the appeal against the high court order in the case. The court said CBI director should have looked into this important matter and deputed an officer to pursue the case.

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