Of the five cases in which Lalu is accused, this is the first in which the court is expected to give judgement

A special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court on Tuesday completed hearing arguments in the case related to the fraudulent withdrawal of Rs. 37 crores from the Chaibasa treasury in the 1996 fodder scam. CBI judge Pravas Kumar Singh has reserved the court’s order for September 30.

Of the five cases in which the Rashtriya Janta Dal (RJD) leader Lalu Prasad Yadav is an accused, this is the first case in which both sides have completed arguments and a judgement is expected. If convicted, Mr. Yadav may face imprisonment of minimum three years and maximum seven years. Besides Mr Yadav, former Chief Minister Jagannath Mishra, three MLAs, the then Secretary, Animal Husbandry department, and others, are also accused.

Defence lawyers Surendra Singh, Chitranjan Sinha and J.P. Jha argued that the accused had not registered a case against the irregularities as the government had no knowledge about them. The CBI counsel B.M.P Singh pointed out that the State government had failed to register a case till 1996, even after the then Deputy Accountant General had written to the government in 1990 pointing out irregularities in transportation as well as the procurement processes in the Animal Husbandry Department. He also said that the Income Tax department had raided the Patna airport in 1992 and had seized Rs. 1 crore.

The CBI counsel argued that the government under Mr. Yadav resorted to forming enquiry committees in the Legislative Assembly, instead of an enquiry by the police, till the Patna High Court ordered a CBI enquiry in 1996.

Of 64 cases in the 1996 fodder scam, 53 cases were litigated in Ranchi and trial has been completed in 45 cases so far. The CBI’s initial charge sheet against Mr Yadav in April 1996 had included charges in the Chaibasacase. There are 55 others accused in the case. Mr Yadav is accused in five cases of which four are being tried in Jharkhand and one in Bihar.

“This is the first case which was registered. The trial had begun in Ranchi in February 2002 after the creation of Jharkhand. In all, 70 witnesses from Bihar have been examined and 280 from Jharkhand,” said a senior official part of the investigation team.