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Row over Lalu fodder case charges

Lalu Prasad and Ranjit Sinha

New Delhi, March 13: CBI director Ranjit Sinha has triggered a controversy by recommending dropping of some charges against RJD chief Lalu Prasad in the animal husbandry department case, popularly known as fodder scam.

CBI sources said Sinha and the director of prosecution of the country’s premier investigating agency O.P. Verma were on a collision course over dropping of charges in the three pending cases against Lalu in the fodder scam.

The cases relate to the alleged illegal withdrawal of money from government treasuries on the basis of fake supply orders — withdrawal of Rs 3.13 crore from Dumka treasury during the period December 1995-January 1996, Rs 84.53 lakh from Deoghar treasury between 1990 and 1994 and Rs 33.13 crore from Chaibasa treasury during December 1992-93.

“Sinha is in favour of dropping some charges which Verma completely opposed. Considering the differences, the matter has been forwarded to Attorney-General G.E. Vahanvati for his opinion,” said a senior CBI official.

“(Most of) the evidence in the case and most of the accused persons are common, including the ingredients of charges in the said cases. I am of the view that a person may not be tried for the same offences in another case for which he has already been convicted when the evidence is the same,” Sinha, a Bihar-cadre IPS officer, had said last month.

“I disagree with the director of prosecution. Since I do not agree with the director of prosecution, let the matter be referred to the solicitor-general for his legal opinion,” he wrote.

Sinha’s move assume significance as Lalu has already appealed in the special court to set aside proceedings against him in some fodder cases on the ground that he has already been prosecuted fro the same charges in a different FIR.

In his argument, Verma cited the Supreme Court judgment in a case involving Lalu which stated that “the main offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act in each case is in respect of separate and distinct Acts, i.e. money siphoned out of different treasuries at different times. A conspiracy is only an allied offence, it cannot be said that the alleged overt act is in course of the same transaction”. The case was filed in April 1996.


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