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HC reserves order on Bihar govt plea against Lalu's acquittal
September 12, 2007 16:53 IST
The Patna High Court on Wednesday reserved its order on the Bihar government's petition challenging the acquittal of Railway Minister Lalu Prasad and his wife Rabri Devi in a disproportionate assets case, which is an off-shoot of the fodder scam.
Justice Ramesh Kumar Datta reserved his order on the petition filed by the state government on February 19 against their acquittal by special Central Bureau of Intelligence judge Muni Lal Paswan on December 18 last year.
The state government had appealed against the CBI court verdict after the central probe agency, which had investigated the DA case, decided not to challenge the acquittal.
Arguing against the state government's appeal, Jethmalani contended that the CBI and the central government alone were competent to challenge the CBI court's verdict. "The NDA government's action (of appealing) is politically motivated," claimed Lalu's counsel Ram Jethmalani.
"Since the case was investigated by the CBI, which functions under the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, either the agency or the Centre are the competent authorities and not the state government," he said.
"Since CBI comes under list one of the seventh schedule, which is the Union list, the state government has no power to present an appeal against acquittal in a case probed by the agency," Jethmalani added.
Expressing similar views, Solicitor General G Vahanvati contended that as the state government was at no stage involved in the investigation of fodder scam cases, it was not empowered to challenge the acquittal.
"The fodder scam, of which the DA case is an off-shoot, was investigated by the CBI by order of the Patna High Court. Since the state government agencies were not involved in the investigation, the Centre and the CBI alone have the power to appeal against the acquittal," he said.
Defending the Bihar government's action, state's counsel Surendra Singh said since the DA case involved Lalu, Rabri and the state of Bihar, the latter was within its rights to go and appeal against the acquittal.
Singh pointed out that the investigation in the fodder scam cases were handed over by the Patna High Court. Since the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary were part of the government, it should be considered that it was the government that had allowed the investigation, argued Singh.
"Had the case been probed by state agencies like the local police or Crime Investigation Department, it would have been in the exclusive domain of the state government. But as CBI investigated it, dual power has arisen in this case with both the Centre and the state competent to challenge the acquittal," he said.
According to the case, Lalu amassed assets worth Rs 46 lakh during his tenure as chief minister from 1990 till 1997. Rabri Devi has been made a co-accused for allegedly abetting the offence.