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Rediff.com  » News » Lalu asks SC to shift fodder scam trial from Bihar

Lalu asks SC to shift fodder scam trial from Bihar

December 06, 2005 17:51 IST

Rashtriya Janata Dal President Lalu Prasad Yadav on Tuesday appealed before the Supreme Court that he will not get a fair trial into the fodder scam cases in Bihar and Jharkhand.

In an apparent reference to change of guard in Bihar after 15 years of RJD rule, Lalu's counsel Ram Jethmalani said, "It has now become impossible to seek justice in Bihar and Jharkhand Court."

Doubting that fair trial may elude Lalu in the multi-crore cases, pending before the designated courts in two states, he said, "I will apply for transfer of cases outside Bihar and Jharkhand."

The apprehension was expressed by Jethmalani during the hearing of an application filed by Lalu and former Bihar Chief Minister Rabri Devi seeking modification of the October 26 order passed in the public interest litigation seeking stay on the transfer of the special judge trying the case against them in Bihar.

The senior advocate had sought modification of the part of the order in which the apex court had said that there was no restraint on the newly-appointed Chief Justice of Patna High Court from reconsidering who would be posted for hearing the case in Bihar.

After Jethmalani said it was not only an administrative order but formed a part of the judicial order as well which could cause damage, a bench comprising Justice K G Balakrishnan, Justice A Lakshmanan and Justice S H Kapadia clarified it was not a direction to change the judge trying the fodder scam case in Patna.

Jethmalani said it was a serious allegation to claim that 'influence' had been used in the appointment of judges for trying the cases.

He said he was ready to argue on all points before the court as insinuation had been made against his clients.     

However, the bench said that the hearing will continue after some days as it was only on Monday that the Patna High Court administration had submitted its report on queries put to it on appointment of designated CBI judge Munnilal Paswan in place of Yogendra Prasad to hold trial in fodder scam case involving Railway Minister Lalu Prasad and others in Patna.

"We are yet to see whether queries are properly answered or not," the bench said, adding the parties to the PIL could also peruse the report submitted to the Registrar General.

After closely scrutinising documents received from the High Court on the promotion of Special CBI Judge Yogendra Prasad and the appointment of Paswan in his place to try the fodder scam cases, the court had sought clarification on shifting of the judge.

The bench had sought reasons as to how Judge Paswan was appointed when his name had not figured in the list of 14 Additional sessions judges, who were promoted to the rank.

The apex court sought the Annual Confidential Report of 14 ASJ including that of Paswan since February 7, 2002 onwards when he was promoted as ASJ to ascertain whether at all he was considered for the promotion.

Besides seeking stay on the transfer of the Special CBI Judge hearing disproportionate assets cases against Lalu and Rabri, the PIL filed by Janata Dal (United) leader Rajiv Ranjan Singh 'Lallan' and Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi had challenged the quashing of income tax cases against the couple.

They accused Lalu of interfering in the ongoing trial of multi-crore fodder scam cases and the government of not pursuing the income tax cases due to his position in the United Progressive Alliance government.

An Income Tax Appellate Tribunal had quashed the tax demands made by the department against Lalu and his wife, running into lakhs of rupees but the CBDT did not give clearance for filing of appeals against the Tribunal order. Lalu had contended that the PIL was not maintainable and was abuse of the process of law.

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