New Delhi: In a setback to Lalu Prasad Yadav, the Supreme Court today ruled that the RJD leader will stand trial separately in all four fodder scam cases as it set aside the Jharkhand high court order which had dropped conspiracy charges against him.
A bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra and Amitava Roy directed the trial court to complete the proceedings against 68-year-old Yadav and others within nine months.
“We have held that for each offence there will be a separate trial,” the bench said.
The fodder scam relates to fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 900 crore by the Animal Husbandry Department from various district when Lalu was the chief minister.
Former Bihar chief minister Jagannath Mishra and former state chief secretary Sajal Chakraborty are also accused in the case.
The apex court, while setting aside the 2014 high court order which had stayed the trial against Yadav after conviction in one of the cases, said the high court should have been consistent in its findings and not have given different views for different sets of accused in a case.
It also pulled up the CBI for delay in filing the appeal against the high court order in the case and said the probe agency’s director should have looked into this important matter and deputed an officer to pursue the case.
The CBI had challenged the 2014 order of the Jharkhand high court quashing four pending fodder scam cases against him on the grounds that a person convicted in one case could not be tried in similar cases based on same witnesses and evidences.
The apex court had in November 2016 pulled up Mishra for allegedly dragging and delaying the appeal filed by CBI challenging the quashing of four pending fodder scam cases against him.
The high court had on November 14, 2014 upheld the CBI plea to continue proceedings in the trial court against Yadav under two sections while dropping other charges on the grounds that a person cannot be tried twice for the same offence.
The charges are in connection with fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 96 lakh during the chief ministerial tenure of the RJD chief.