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Lalu plea for relief rejected

Ranchi, July 1: A special CBI court in Ranchi today dismissed former Bihar chief minister and fodder scam convict Lalu Prasad’s petition to drop charges against him in an animal husbandry case pertaining to fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 84.53 lakh from Deoghar treasury between 1990 and 1996.

The court of A.K. Rai rejected Lalu’s contention that he should not be tried for the case (RC64A/96) after being convicted in the same offence earlier. On September 30 last year, the RJD chief was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison in the RC 20A/96 fodder case related to withdrawal of Rs 37.7 crore from Chaibasa treasury.

Rai today also rejected similar petitions of former JD(U) MP Jagdish Sharma and former Janata Dal MLA R.K. Rana. The judge observed that both the cases were framed on different charges and directed Lalu to appear before the court to record his statement on July 14.

In last December, Lalu’s counsel filed the petition under Section 300 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and sub-section (1) of Section 220 that states that a person once convicted or acquitted cannot be tried for the same offence. “We petitioned to the court saying both the cases have the same witnesses, documents and evidences. So RC64A/96 should be a fodder scam case,” Lalu’s advocate Prabhat Kumar said.

“We will soon decide the next course of action once we get the order copy,” he added.

Apart from the RJD chief, 40 others, including former Bihar chief minister Jagannath Mishra and officials of the animal husbandry department, are also accused in the case (RC64A/96).

This apart, Lalu is also facing charges in four fodder scam cases — three in Ranchi (RC47A/96, RC 68A/96 and RC 38A/96) and one in Patna.

His lawyer said similar petitions had been filed in cases RC38A/96 and RC68A/96, scheduled to come up for hearing on July 14 and 15, respectively.

While the case RC68A/96 involves fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 33.61 crore from Chaibasa treasury, RC47A/96 is related to illegal withdrawal of Rs 139.39 crore from Doranda branch in Ranchi and RC 38A/96 is about Rs 3.42 crore from Dumka treasury.

CBI sources said CBI director Ranjit Sinha in March had suggested that charges against Lalu in at least three fodder scam cases might be dropped. But OP Shamra, who is director of prosecution, and other top CBI officials in Patna and Ranchi did not agree with Sinha’s contention. Later, the matter was placed before the Solicitor General for legal opinion who said that the matter be left on the judge hearing case.