Wednesday, April 5, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

CBI chargesheets Laloo, Rabri
Non-bailable warrants issued

PATNA, April 4 (PTI, UNI) — The Rabri Devi government in Bihar today plunged into a crisis within three weeks of assuming office with a CBI court passing order for issuance of non-bailable warrants of arrests against Chief Minister Rabri Devi and her husband and RJD chief Laloo Prasad Yadav in a disproportionate asset case.

Designated CBI Judge S.K. Lal issued the order after taking cognisance of the charge sheet submitted by the investigating agency in the case, an offshoot of the fodder scam.

Mr Yadav had himself resigned from office of the Chief Minister when chargesheeted and facing arrest in the fodder scam case.

In the present case, while Mr Yadav has been charged with amassing assets worth Rs 42.52 lakh disproportionate to his known sources of income between 1990-96 when he was the Chief Minister, his wife and the current incumbent of office Mrs Rabri Devi has been charged with abetment of the offence and made a co-accused.

The premier investigating agency submitted the case diary and other necessary documents along with the charge sheet. The duo has been charged under Section 13 (12E) read with 13 (2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act and Section 109-13 (1E) read with 13 (2) of the IPC relating to aiding and abetting the offence.

Bihar Governor V.C. Pande had granted sanction to the CBI to prosecute Mr Yadav and Mrs Rabri Devi in the disproportionate assets case on March 11.

Mr Yadav’s counsel Janardan Rai told reporters that the RJD chief in his petition before the court had contended that the CBI had to secure the permission of the state government for instituting fresh cases relating to the fodder scam of which the disproportionate asset case was an offshoot.

Since neither the Patna High Court nor the Supreme Court has issued any order for instituting the case, the CBI has no authority to take such an action on its own, he said.

“We have prayed before the court not to take cognisance of the charge sheet,” he said.

Meanwhile, RJD chief Laloo Prasad Yadav firmly rejected the Opposition demand for the resignation of Chief Minister Rabri Devi even as the NDA mounted pressure on her for demitting office.

“There is no question of Rabri quitting office following the CBI charge sheet. When L.K. Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi can continue to occupy government office after being chargesheeted in the Babri Masjid case where is the need for Rabri to quit?,” he asked at a press conference.

“The Constitution guarantees equality before law. No double standards can be adopted for Advani and Rabri,” he said and accused the Centre of using the CBI as a tool to harass political opponents.

As Mr Laloo continued to talk tough, on NDA delegation led by former Chief Minister Nitish Kumar called on Governor V.C. Pande and requested him to sack Mrs Rabri Devi if she did not resign on her own accord following the filing of the chargesheet.

“As per the convention, nobody holding a public office can continue after being chargesheeted in a corruption case,” Mr Nitish Kumar told reporters after meeting the Governor.

The NDA called a Bihar bandh on April 7 if Mrs Rabri Devi did not step down by then.

In New Delhi, the Congress declined to comment on the developments in Bihar except to say that law should take its course.

The central leadership of the party has asked Bihar PCC chief Chandan Bagchi to obtain a certified copy of the charge sheet against the Chief Minister, Congress spokesperson Ajit Jogi said. The party would study the charge sheet before making any comment, he said.

Mr Jogi also declined to answer a specific question whether the Chief Minister was morally bound to resign in view of the CBI charge sheet.

CPI(M) Politburo member Sitaram Yechury described the CBI action as a conspiracy by communal forces to unseat the Rabri Devi Government.

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