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SC relief to Lalu Prasad, Rabri Devi in assets case

RJD leader Lalu Prasad on Thursday got a major relief when a corruption case against him and his wife got a legal burial with Supreme Court holding that Bihar government cannot appeal in the place of CBI against their acquittal by a trial court.

New Delhi: RJD leader Lalu Prasad on Thursday
got a major relief when a corruption case against him and his
wife got a legal burial with Supreme Court holding that Bihar
government cannot appeal in the place of CBI against their
acquittal by a trial court.

"Bihar Government is not competent to direct its
public prosecutor to present appeal from the judgement passed
by special judge, CBI, Patna," an apex court bench comprising
Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices R M Lodha and B S
Chauhan said in a 35-page judgement.

The Bench delivered the verdict by setting aside the
decision of the Patna High Court admitting the appeal filed by
the Bihar Government against their acquittal in the case.

The couple was accused of amassing assets worth Rs 46
lakh beyond their known sources of income when Prasad was the
Chief Minister between 1990 and 1997.

The state Government had filed the appeal after the
CBI had not challenged the acquittal of Prasad and his wife
Rabri Devi.

The Bench, which allowed the appeal of Prasad and
Rabri Devi, noted that "as per CBI, the central government,
after considering the conclusions and findings of the trial
court, took a conscious and considered decision that no ground
whatsoever was made for filing an appeal against the judgement
of the trial court".

The CBI had also challenged the High Court decision to
admit the appeal of the Bihar Government questioning its locus
standi under section 378 of the Criminal Procedure Code

The Bench said under section 378 of the Cr PC which
deals with appeals in case of acquittal, the Centre is the
competent authority to challenge the decision of the trial
court in the case investigated by the CBI and other Central
agencies under the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act and
"the authority of the state government in relation to such
cases has been excluded."

Special CBI judge Muni Lal Paswan had on December 18,
2006 acquitted Lalu and his wife Rabri Devi in the DA case.

The Bihar government had moved the High Court against
the trial court verdict after finding that CBI was not
challenging the acquittal of Prasad and his wife in the case.

The High Court had held that Bihar government`s appeal
challenging their acquittal in a DA case was maintainable,
saying it could be entertained under section 378 of the
CrPC relating to a case of acquittal.

Reacting to the Supreme Court verdict, Lalu Prasad said
he has got justice and welcomed it. "I have faith in the
judiciary," he told reporters.

However, notwithstanding today`s verdict, Lalu Prasad`s
legal troubles appear to be far from over. He is saddled with
six more cases in the multi-crore fodder scam, which are in
various stages of trial in Bihar and Jharkhand courts.

Questioning the move of Bihar government, CBI, in its
petition, maintained that the Nitish Kumar government has no
locus standi to file an appeal as the case was investigated by
it and the state government cannot act contrary to the
executive decision of the Centre. Lalu Prasad and his wife
also took a similar stand.

During the final hearing on March 10, CBI stood by the
RJD chief in the Supreme Court by opposing the decision of
the Bihar government to challenge his acquittal in the
disproportionate assets case, an off-shoot of the fodder scam.

Finally, we got justice: Lalu

Hailing the Supreme Court`s ruling
that the Bihar Government had no authority to challenge him
and his wife`s acquittal in a disproportionate assets case,
RJD supremo Lalu Prasad said he finally got justice from
the apex court.

"Finally, we receive justice from the apex court," Prasad
said while talking to reporters.

Welcoming the verdict, the RJD chief said," Supreme Court
is like a God and we all respect, welcome and accept the
verdict being delivered by it."

Prasad said he also expected justice in the cases of the
multi-crore rupees fodder scam in which trials were on in
Jharkhand and Bihar.

He, however, refused to get drawn into any controversy by
refraining from making any comment against the Nitish Kumar
government or Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

The Supreme Court`s verdict seems to have not gone
down well with ruling NDA, though the RJD chief and his LJP
counterpart Ram Vilas Paswan welcomed the verdict.

Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi said the state
government would decide its new course of action after
consulting legal experts.

LJP chief Ramvilas Paswan also hailed the apex court
order and said everybody should have full faith in judiciary.


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