The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Out, but not down

New Delhi, Dec. 2: Days after his debacle at home, Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Lalu Prasad today turned up the heat on the CBI and the Bihar government.

He and his wife, former Bihar chief minister Rabri Devi, have moved the Supreme Court, saying charges of unaccounted wealth against them should be quashed as the CBI had not obtained proper “sanction to prosecute” them.

They added that the sanction granted by governor V.C. Pande on March 10, 2000 ' during the one week Nitish Kumar was chief minister ' was “wrong, illegal and void”.

A division bench of Justices K.G. Balakrishnan and P.P. Naolekar issued notices to the CBI and the state government, now headed by Lalu Prasad’s bete noire Nitish Kumar, to reply to the petitioners’ claim.

In April 2000, the CBI had filed a chargesheet in the case, an offshoot of the multi-crore fodder scam, accusing Lalu Prasad and Rabri of accumulating assets disproportionate to their known sources of income during 1990-1997 when Lalu Prasad was chief minister followed by his wife.

Patna High Court had on June 1 unanimously dismissed their plea against the sanction.

The apex court bench, acting on special leave petitions filed by the couple challenging the high court ruling, sought replies from the CBI and the Bihar government in two weeks and posted the matter for further hearing in the second week of January.

Senior counsel and nominated Rajya Sabha member Fali Nariman, appearing for Lalu Prasad and Rabri, said the CBI had erred in directly approaching the governor without getting the approval of the council of ministers. “Can CBI bypass the council of ministers and approach the governor directly'” he asked.

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