CBI orders prosecution of Laloo, Mishra in fodder scam
The Central Bureau of Investigation has ordered the prosecution of Bihar
Chief Minister Laloo Prasad Yadav, senior Congress leader
and former chief minister Jagannath
Mishra, Union Minister of State for Rural Development Chandradev
Prasad Verma and 53 others in the Rs 9.5 billion fodder scam.
The decision was taken by CBI Director Joginder Singh after
reading the reports of the investigating officers and
scrutinising the evidence.
The scandal first came to light in the report of the Comptroller
and Auditor General of India in December 1995. It involved
charges of fraudulent withdrawal of government funds
worth Rs 9.5 billion in the Bihar animal husbandary department
against non-existent supplies of fodder and medicines
In March 1996, the Patna high court directed the CBI to
investigate the scam and complete its probe within four months.
The judges observed that those involved in the scam had amassed
enormous wealth and had immense administrative and political clout.
Among the 56 suspects are two Bihar ministers -- Bhola Ram
Toofani and Vidya Sagar Nishad -- and at least five civil service
The CBI will now seek the governor's sanction to prosecute
Laloo Yadav, the two ministers and the IAS officers under
the Criminal Procedure Code and the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The agency's decision comes three days after Joginder Singh
told the media in Calcutta that the CBI would file a
chargesheet within three weeks against the accused in the fodder scam
However, a day before, on March 24, the CBI had contended before
the Patna high court that no firm time-frame was possible for
completion of the investigation into the case.
Joginder Singh, in his affidavit before the high court, said a chargesheet
without complete investigation might lead to a 'miscarriage' of justice.
The three-month period for the
completion of the investigation into the animal fodder scam case
-- assured by the director himself --
expired on March 11. The
court then directed Singh to complete the probe by April
CBI Joint Director (east) Upen Biswas's 2,000-page report was received on
April 19 and later scrutinised by Special Director (south and east) D R
After the scandal was first brought to light in the CAG report in
December 1995, the state government constituted a probe panel headed by the
development commissioner in January 1996. Subsequently, a special
investigation team was set up consisting of senior police officers
from the state.
The CBI came into the picture after the Patna high court said the
state government's 'recalcitrance' in
agreeing to a probe by an outside agency prima facie showed
it wanted to hide facts.
The Bihar government, on March 15, 1996, moved a petition before
the Supreme Court challenging the Patna high court's judgment
on the ground that the high court under Article 226 of the
Constitution had no jurisdiction to order a CBI probe without
the state government's consent. The apex court, however, dismissed
the state government plea and asked the CBI to go ahead with the investigation.
On January 5, Biswas and other CBI officers
questioned Laloo Yadav at Patna for six hours, making him the
first chief minister to be interrogated in a case of criminal
conspiracy. The CBI team was, however,
dissatisfied with Yadav's replies.
On January 8, Laloo Yadav charged Biswas with
hatching a conspiracy against him in league with the Bharatiya Janata Party
and observed that he had no faith in investigating agency. He demanded
Biswas's immediate removal from the investigating team.
The Bihar chief minister later backed out from the tirade against the CBI officer.
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