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Court acquits former DC in fodder scam

- CBI fails to incriminate Sajal Chakraborty

Ranchi, Aug. 3: Former director of State Institute of Rural Development Sajal Chakraborty, also a lover of pets including simians, got a monkey off his back today as Jharkhand High Court acquitted him from all charges in the multi-crore animal husbandry scam.

The court of Justice R.R. Prasad, while disposing of Chakraborty’s appeal, held that the CBI had failed to establish the offences against him and acquitted him of all charges.

Chakraborty was in the eye of the storm in 1993-94 when he was the deputy commissioner of West Singhbhum and alleged to have eased the withdrawal of Rs 38.94 crore from the district treasury on the basis of fake animal husbandry bills.

Chakraborty was alleged to have received a laptop and two printers from the accused suppliers for aiding in passing their bills. The fake bills were made for purchasing fodder, equipment, machines and other articles for animal husbandry department.

Though none of the equipment or fodder was dispatched to the different centres of the department in the district, money for it was released from the treasury.

All bills were passed through the treasury on signatures of Chakraborty and money was paid to as many as 58 private suppliers. The money was disbursed in connivance with mobile veterinary officers, assistant poultry officer, manager of state veterinary insemination and other government officials.

It was further alleged that the officials had shown purchases of 3.86 lakh quintals of yellow maize and 94,500 quintals of groundnut cake (CNC). The requirement was only 3,650 quintals/bags of yellow maize and 1,800 quintals of CNC for an entire year.

The CBI had taken up the prosecution and examined as many as 158 witnesses in the case. The lower court convicted Chakraborty in 2009 under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Prevention of Corruption Act, which he challenged before the high court.

He was sentenced to four and a half years of rigorous imprisonment by the CBI court. He had already suffered 19 months of custody in the case.

During the course of arguments, Chakraborty’s counsel A.K. Singh and K.S. Nanda told the high court that all allegations levelled against their client were baseless.

The laptop and printers, said to have been received by Chakraborty while he was the West Singhbhum DC, were neither recovered nor seized from him. The high court observed that the trial court certainly erred in ruling that Chakraborty received a laptop and printers from the suppliers as reward.

Chakraborty is under suspension after he was convicted by the lower court.

He resides in the state capital, having hit headlines earlier for keeping monkeys as pets at his residence.

Chakraborty had to transfer his pets to Birsa Munda Zoological Park at Chakla in Ormanjhi.