Press Trust of India
NEW DELHI, 6 AUG: The Supreme Court today reserved its order on RJD chief Lalu Yadav’s plea seeking transfer of the trial court judge hearing the case against him in the fodder scam in Jharkhand.
A Bench headed by Chief Justice Mr P Sathasivam, which had on 9 July ordered an interim stay on the passing of judgement in the case and issued notice to the state of Jharkhand and CBI, reserved the order.
The RJD’s plea faced stiff opposition from senior advocate Shanti Bhushan, appearing for JD(U) leader Rajiv Ranjan, who submitted that it would be a “travesty of justice” if the judge is transferred at the fag end of the trial.
Mr Bhushan submitted that it would give a wrong impression to the entire country if the judge is transferred and raised question on RJD supremo’s petition seeking transfer of the judge who has been hearing the case since 2011.
The “whole country is watching and it would send a wrong impression that criminal cases involving important politicians will go on and on,” Bhushan said, adding that “the transfer of judge would shake the faith of people in judicial system”.
The CBI, which is the prosecuting agency in the fodder scam, objected intervention of Ranjan in the case, saying that he is a politician and the political battle cannot be allowed in the court.
Senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, appearing for the RJD chief, also objected to Mr Bhushan’s plea saying the intervention by third party in a criminal case should not be allowed.
The Bench, after hearing all the parties, reserved its order and also queried from the CBI and Lalu Prasad’s counsel on how long will it take for completion of trial if the judge is transferred at this stage.
Solicitor General Mohan Prasaran replied that CBI will take 30-40 days to complete its proceedings and Mr Jethmalani said that the defence proceedings will take around 10 days.
The Bench was hearing a petition filed by Lalu Prasad alleging that the trial court judge P K Singh is biased against him as he is a relative of P K Shahi, education minister in the government of Nitish Kumar “who is his (Yadav’s) biggest political enemy”.
The apex court had earlier restrained the special CBI court in Jharkhand from pronouncing its verdict on 15 July in a fodder case involving the RJD chief.
Mr Yadav approached the apex court after the Jharkhand High Court on 1 July dismissed his plea to transfer the case to another special CBI court from that of Special CBI Judge P K Singh.
The case pertains to alleged fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 37.7 crore from Chaibasa Treasury in the 1990s. The FIR was lodged by Bihar government in February 1996 but the case was later on transferred to CBI a month later.
The CBI investigated the scam for a year and charge sheet was filed in 1997. The charges were framed in 2000 following which the Special CBI Court commenced trial against Lalu Prasad and 44 other accused.