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Fodder haunts ex-MP again

Ranchi, Jan. 22: A JD(U) leader, who was disqualified from the Lok Sabha after his conviction in a fodder scam case along with former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad, is in the dock again.

Special CBI court (animal husbandry) of Sitaram Prasad held Jagdish Sharma guilty in yet another 18 year-old fodder scam case (RC34 A/96) along with 18 others.

According to special public prosecutor Shiv Kumar Kaka, 19 people were held guilty on several charges. Seven were awarded three years RI and fines ranging from Rs 2 lakh to 3 lakh but were granted interim bail.

The quantum of punishment for Sharma and 11 others would be pronounced on January 24.

“It is a significant victory for the CBI,” said Kaka.

Those convicted today were charged under sections 120 B, 409, 468, 471, 477 A of IPC and sections 13 (2), 13 (1) (C) and D of Prevention of Corruption Act.

Sharma, who got bail in the earlier case 10 days ago, was forwarded to Birsa Munda Central Jail along with 11 others after the court pronounced the judgment in the afternoon.

While Sharma is the lone politician to be convicted in the case, the others include suppliers, animal husbandry department officials and a treasury officer of Godda.

Looking exhausted after the verdict was announced, Sharma said, “Nirdosh hoon, lekin ishwar ki marji aur vidhi ke likhe ko kaun badal sakta hai (I am innocent but who can change God’s will and destiny).”

The case pertains to illegal withdrawal of Rs 1.16 crore from Godda treasury. Sharma has been found guilty on several counts, including receiving money illegally, criminal breach of trust by a public servant, forgery, cheating and concealment of evidence.

The CBI claimed that Sharma, as a Congress MLA and chairman of Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the then Bihar Assembly, forestalled police and vigilance probes into fodder scam cases.

His reasoning was that no probe could be held as the PAC was holding an independent inquiry into the complaints.

CBI DSP A.K. Jha said, “It was the 46th fodder scam case out of 53 which were disposed of today at various courts of Ranchi. This case is part of fraudulent withdrawal of public money worth Rs 950 crore from the treasuries of undivided Bihar under the head of the animal husbandry department from 1990 onwards.

“These withdrawals were made through fake bills and vouchers for buying feed, fodder and medicine for livestock by AHD officials in collusion with suppliers and top officials.”