The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Laloo appeals to SC for passport to Pak

New Delhi, Aug. 5: Laloo Prasad Yadav today knocked on the doors of the Supreme Court — for a passport to Pakistan.

The former Bihar chief minister sought the apex court’s indulgence to release his passport so that he can visit Islamabad to attend a conference of the South Asia Free Media Association from August 9 to 12.

The conference is being held as part of “confidence building measures” between India and Pakistan, Laloo Prasad’s counsel B.B. Singh said.

The petition has come in the wake of the refusal of three Ranchi trial courts to return the passport of the Rashtriya Janata Dal chief, one of the accused in the multi-crore rupee fodder scam. Faced with several scam-related cases, the Bihar strongman has got bail on condition that he would surrender his passport and would go abroad only with the permission of the court.

The petition contended that “no charge has been framed in any case and the prosecution will not be prejudiced if the petitioner is allowed to go to Islamabad in Pakistan only for three days and that, too, on official delegation as member of Parliament”.

The petition said: “The main purpose and object was to normalise relations between the two countries for which this delegation of members of Parliament was going there.” As president of a major Indian political party, Laloo Prasad said he should be allowed to go to Islamabad to participate in the conference and contribute to strengthen ties between the neighbours.

The media association’s India president, K.K. Katyal, and his Pakistani counterpart, M. Ziauddin, both senior journalists, in their invitation annexed with the petition, said “25 leading legislators representing major parliamentary parties in (the) Indian Parliament, 10 editors, five top experts and five representations of civil society from all over India” were being invited.

The invitation said: “Pakistan and India should unequivocally declare their resolve to take the path of peace and reconciliation to resolve all disputes and issues while exploring full potential of all avenues of cooperation.”

Laloo Prasad said he had approached all the five CBI special courts established in Ranchi and Patna to hear five fodder scam related cases to get his passport released. He said the Patna special judge had on August 2 directed the SP, CBI, to release the passport. Another special judge in Patna had also allowed him to receive the passport but on condition that it would be surrendered on his return from Islamabad.

But the other three special courts in Ranchi rejected his prayer for return of the passport.

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