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Assets case: Lalu Prasad, Rabri Devi acquitted
December 18, 2006 11:18 IST
Last Updated: December 18, 2006 12:30 IST
Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav on Monday won a major legal battle when he and his wife, former Bihar chief minister Rabri Devi, were acquitted in the disproportionate assets case against them.
Lalu Prasad and his wife were present when Central Bureau of Investigation Judge Muni Lal Paswan pronounced the verdict in a jam-packed court in Patna, sending their supporters outside into a frenzied celebration.
The case in which the railway minister was accused of amassing property worth Rs 46 lakh above his known source of income between 1990-97 as Bihar chief minister was an offshoot of the infamous fodder scam. Rabri Devi was accused of abetting her husband.
Lalu Prasad was the main accused in the case while his wife was charged by CBI with aiding and abetting her husband in the alleged crime.
It was this case, which had led the CBI for the first time, to raid the official residence of the chief minister.
During the trial, CBI, which registered the case against Lalu Yadav on August 19, 1998, stuck to its charge that he had accumulated assets of over Rs 46 lakh disproportionate to his known sources of income between March 1990 and March 1997 as Bihar chief minister. The defence contended the assets were all accounted for.
While 94 witnesses, including Brigadier R P Nautial, ex-director general of Central Reserve Police Force A P Dorai and former speaker late Radhanandan Jha, had appeared for the defence, a total of 132 people, including former CBI SP of Patna V S K Kaumudi, deposed for the prosecution.
The first information report in the case was registered by Kaumudi under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The chargesheet was filed on April 4, 2000, by him against Lalu Yadav for allegedly possessing assets worth Rs 46,26,820 disproportionate to his known sources of income.
The name of then chief minister Rabri Devi was included in the chargesheet for abetment of the offence under Section 109 IPC read with Section 13(1)(e) of Prevention of Corruption Act.
Charges were framed against Lalu Prasad and Rabri Devi on June 9, 2000.
Apart from the disproportionate assets case, Lalu Prasad's name figures in as many as six cases of the multi-crore rupee fodder scam, estimated to run into more than Rs 900 crore.
Out of these, one case is pending with the CBI court in Patna while the rest were transferred to the court of special CBI judges at Ranchi since the place of occurrence of offences was within the territory of Jharkhand state.
CBI may appeal against Monday's order of the special court acquitting Lalu Prasad and Rabri Devi in the disproportionate assets case.
"We may go to the high court in appeal against the acquittal of Lalu Prasad and Rabri Devi," special CBI prosecutor L R Ansari told PTI soon after the judgment was pronounced in the courtroom.
He, however, said the authority to take final decision on whether to go for appeal was with the CBI headquarters.
"We will go through the detailed order and give our comments before the matter is forwarded to the CBI headquarters for a final decision on appeal," he said adding, the prosecuting agency had not yet received the order.