On December 6, 2018, a special CBI court delivered its judgment for the Rs 950-crore fodder scam of the 90s, convicting former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav. The court sentenced him to three-and-a-half years’ rigorous imprisonment for the 21-year-old case.
The Indian Express reported that Yadav was convicted along with 15 others. The judgement was reminiscent of the first fodder scam that Yadav was convicted for, back in 2013.
“The court has awarded three-and-a-half years jail to Lalu Prasad and ₹10 lakh fine to him. If he fails to deposit the penalty money, it will amount to six more months of imprisonment to him. Now we’ll move Ranchi high court for bail on Monday,” Prabhat Kumar, counsel for Lalu Prasad told media persons.
What is the case about?
Large-scale embezzlement of government funds was carried out by producing fraudulent bills. Fodder scam derived its name from the fact that it stemmed from the animal and husbandry department (AHD) of Bihar. The fake transactions were shown to be made in the name of procuring cattle feed over a period of 20 years.
In 1996, then Bihar finance commissioner VS Dubey started investigating the matter. A raid at the animal husbandry department in Chaibasa (now in Jharkhand) revealed documents that prove that illegal withdrawals were made from the state treasury, Outlook reported.
Reports suggested that the slew of I-T raids in 1993 unearthed that nearly 80 AHD officials and suppliers had reaped the benefits of the fraud, accumulating property worth Rs 25 crore.
Why was Lalu Prasad accused?
In 1997, BJP state unit chief Sushil Modi demanded a CBI inquiry into the case. Following this, the agency uncovered that government money was siphoned off in large quantities.
“A large amount of money was withdrawn from the government’s treasury. In short, it was a loot of government’s money by the government’s officials backed by the political leadership. About Rs 950 crore was looted by government officials in ten years. It was a huge thing for all of us at that point of time,” additional director of CBI, Rakesh Asthana told PTI.
After CBI’s persistence to initiate prosecution proceedings against Yadav, the former chief minister had to step down due to increasing public pressure. However, in a clever strategy, he put his wife Rabri Devi on his position as chief minister.
Before pronouncing the verdict in the second fodder case, Ranchi CBI court judge Shivpal Singh, on Thursday, alleged that he had received calls from Yadav’s men. However, Singh did not specify who had called him, The Indian Express reported.
What happens now?
Yadav’s conviction has brought misfortunes upon his family, as the income tax department has prepared a dossier against Yadav’s son and former deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav along with two of Yadav’s daughters, The Times of India reported. The cases have been filed under Benami Transactions (prohibition) Act for a Rs 40-crore property. It was allegedly bought using “unaccounted money in Delhi’s New Friends Colony.
The courts will be hearing four more cases related to the fodder scam, in which Yadav has been accused. Judgements in two of the cases are likely to be pronounced within a month. Out of the 64 cases arising out of the scam, Yadav has been accused of six and convicted in one.