A Special Central Bureau of Investigation court in Patna on Thursday framed charges against Bihar's former chief ministers Lalu Prasad and Jagannath Mishra, along with 32 other accused, in the multi-crore fodder scam case.
According to court officials, the CBI court framed charges against Lalu, Mishra and others including former Member of Legislative Assembly R K Rana and Janata Dal United Member of Parliament Jagdish Sharma.
"After they appeared before the court in the fodder scam case here, the court has framed charges against them and made it clear that trial against them would begin soon," a court official said.
Last year, the court had dismissed the discharge petitions filed by the accused. It had fixed March 1 as the date for framing of charges against the accused and asked them to be present on the day.
Designated CBI Judge V K Srivastava framed the charges against them in the case relating to fraudulent withdrawals of nearly Rs 46 lakh by officials of the state animal husbandry department from Banka and Bhagalpur treasuries through fake enforced bills between 1994-96.
During the period, Prasad was the chief minister of Bihar.
Both Lalu and Mishra denied any involvement in the scam and claimed that the CBI had framed them.
"I am innocent; I have nothing to do with the fodder scam. The CBI was biased in framing me in this case," Lalu told media personnel after the court framed charges against him.
Jagannath also claimed that the CBI had framed him in the case on baseless charges. "I was not the chief minister of Bihar, the way it was showed by the CBI in the case, but the agency framed me in the case," he said.
The central investigative agency had charge-sheeted them in this conspiracy angle case on March 3, 2003.
The CBI had filed the chargesheet against 44 people on March 31, 2003 and the court had taken its cognisance on April 30 that year.
Of the 44 accused, six have passed away; two have turned approvers, while two others are still evading arrest.
With inputs from PTI