SC relief to Lalu Prasad, Rabri Devi in assets case
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Last Updated: Thursday, April 01, 2010, 22:49
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 (CrPC).

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.


First Published: Thursday, April 01, 2010, 22:49

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