Six months after their appearance before a special Criminal Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court here, charges have been framed against Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Lalu Prasad and the former Bihar Chief Minister, Jagannath Mishra, in connection with the multi-crore fodder scam case.
Mr. Prasad and Mr. Mishra are among the prime accused in the scam that finally unravelled in 1996, proving that funds in excess of Rs. 900 crore had been siphoned off over a two-decade period by politicians and bureaucrats belonging to successive administrations on the pretext of purchasing livestock feed.
Designated CBI Judge V.K. Srivastava charged Mr. Prasad with fraudulent withdrawals of Rs. 47 lakh from the treasuries at Banka and Bhagalpur districts where allegedly forged and fake bills were drawn by the Animal Husbandry Department in 1995-96 when Mr. Prasad was Bihar Chief Minister.
The court has also framed charges against Jagdish Sharma, the current Janata Dal (United) Lok Sabha member from Jehanabad, in connection with the case.
In the first week of February, the special CBI court had directed Mr. Prasad to appear before it, while rejecting his plea to allow cross-examination of witnesses of the prosecution.
At the time, both Mr. Prasad and Mr. Mishra had pleaded innocence, claiming that they had been framed and that the CBI had not obtained gubernatorial sanction for prosecution in the case.