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SC seeks details of fodder scam trial

February 22, 2005 15:29 IST

In the wake of allegations that the United Progressive Alliance government was trying to dilute the fodder scam and income tax cases against Railway Minister Lalu Prasad and his wife and Bihar Chief Minister Rabri Devi, the Supreme Court on Tuesday sought "every possible" detail of proceedings in these cases.

A bench comprising Justice S N Variava, Justice A R Lakshmanan and Justice S H Kapadia directed the Central Bureau of Investigation to place on record how and why the public prosecutor in the Rs 900 crore fodder scam cases at Patna and Ranchi was replaced with Oma Shankar Mishra.

It also took note of allegations that "specific officers" were posted on deputation at the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal at Patna to dismiss the demand of nearly Rs 40 lakh from the two,

The bench asked the tribunal president to disclose within three weeks why such deputations were made and also the daily order sheets of the tribunal in the cases.

The bench wanted to know if R K Tyagi was sent on deputation for two weeks to ITAT and also "why and when" two other officers, Mohan Raj and M K Sarkar, were posted there.

A public interest litigation filed by Bharatiya Janata Party leader Sushil Kumar Modi and Janata Dal-United leader Rajiv Ranjan alias Lallan had sought cancellation of Lalu Prasad and Rabri Devi's bail for interfering in the cases.

Appearing for the petitioner, senior advocate Mukul Rohtagi said, "The prosecutor in the fodder scam case was supplanted at the instance of a very important accused who is part of the UPA government."

Rohtagi said since the new prosecutor took over, "he has done nothing but taken adjournments in the cases before the trial courts".

He also expressed apprehension that there was a move now by the government to replace the special judge hearing the fodder scam cases.

Opposing this, Solicitor General G E Vahanvati said the government could not transfer the trial court judge, as only the Patna high court could do that.

When Rohtagi persisted, the bench said, "Bring it to our notice when such a transfer takes place. We will deal with it then."

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