Fodder scam: SC rejects Lalu`s plea to change judge

The SC delivered its verdict on a plea of RJD supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav seeking transfer of trial court judge hearing the case against him in fodder scam.

Zee Media Bureau

New Delhi: In a major setback for Lalu Prasad Yadav, the Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected the plea of the Rashtriya Janata Dal supremo seeking transfer of trial court judge hearing a fodder scam case against him in Jharkhand.

The apex court bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam directed the trial court to complete the trial as early as possible, and gave another five days to the prosecution to complete their arguments and 10 days to the accused persons to present their side of the case.

The court said that trial court will pronounce its verdict without being influenced by whatever has been said by the Ranchi High Court and by the Supreme Court.

The court also noted that the judge sought to be changed by Lalu Prasad at this stage of the trial has been hearing the matter since 2011.

Reacting to the top court`s judgment, Lalu`s senior counsel Ram Jethmalani said: The "Supreme Court is supreme".

On Monday, an apex court bench of Chief Justice P Sathasivam, Justice Ranjan Prakash Desai and Justice Ranjan Gogoi had reserved the order in the case after Solicitor General Mohan Prasaran told the court that it would take the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) nearly 40 days to complete its arguments.
On July 09, Lalu Prasad had moved the apex court to transfer the case against him from a CBI special court in Jharkhand to any other court with competent jurisdiction.

Lalu had alleged bias contending that the trial court judge`s sister was married to a cousin of Bihar minister PK Shahi who was his sworn political opponent.

Appearing for Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lallan Singh, on whose public suit the fodder scam came to light nearly two decades ago, senior counsel Shanti Bhushan had opposed Lalu`s Prasad`s plea and said that "the public perception in the cases of important politicians is that whatever may be the offence alleged against them they will never be brought to justice".
The multi-million-rupee fodder scam in Bihar surfaced in 1996 and related to irregularities in the animal husbandry department. Around 54 of the 61 cases were transferred to Jharkhand when it was carved from Bihar in November 2000. Different CBI special courts have passed judgments in more than 40 cases.

(With IANS inputs)