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CBI orders prosecution of Laloo, Mishra in fodder scam

Laloo Yadav 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 officers.

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 case.

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 28.

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 Kartikeyan.

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.


Janata Dal defends Laloo Yadav

Laloo Yadav says he will not resign, even if he is indicted in animal fodder scam

Bihar Opposition parties demand Laloo Yadav's arrest

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