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Assets Case
HC notices to Lalu, Rabri
Tribune News Service

Patna, March 22
The ghost of fodder scam continues to haunt RJD supremo Lalu Prasad and his wife Rabri Devi with the Patna high court today issuing notices to both of them in connection with Rs 46-lakh disproportionate assets case.

The disproportionate assets case is an offshoot of the multi-crore fodder scam.

The notices were issued on the petition filed by the Nitish government challenging Lalu and Rabri’s acquittal in the case by the then special CBI judge, Munilal Paswan, on December 18 last year.

While ordering the issuance of notices against Lalu and Rabri after hearing the counsel for the state government and the CBI, the single bench of the high court, headed by Justice R.K. Dutta, gave a two-week time to the duo to give their replies as to why the petition filed by the state government should not be admitted.

The Nitish government had moved the Patna high court on February 19 against the acquittal of the couple by the then special CBI judge.

Senior supreme court lawyer Haish Salve, appearing for the Nitish government, quoted section 378 of the code of criminal procedure to defend the government’s right to challenge the acquittal in cases where an offence was committed within the geographical limits of that state.

He quoted several apex court judgements to buttress his argument. In his argument, Salve wondered the role of the CBI in the case, which instead of going for an appeal challenging the acquittal, was now seeking to uphold the acquittal of the very people whose conviction it had sought few months ago.

The CBI court in its verdict on December 18 had said the couple was innocent of the charges of amassing Rs 46 lakh, disproportionate to Lalu Prasad’s known sources of income income during 1990-97, when he was the Chief Minister of Bihar.

Rabri Devi was included in the charge sheet later. The CBI had lodged the case in 1998.

BJP national spokesman and senior advocate Ravi Shankar Prasad had already dubbed the acquittal of Lalu and Rabri by the CBI court as “vulnerable to law.”

Bihar advocate-general P.K. Shahai too charged the CBI with being influenced by Lalu to dilute the case while defending the Nitish government’s decision to file the petition challenging the acquittal.

Shahi accused the CBI of being influenced by Lalu in the wake of the prosecuting agency’s decision to question the maintainability of the appeal by the Bihar government.

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It is CBI vs Nitish
Ambarish Dutta
Tribune News Service

Patna, March 22
Even as the Patna High Court today issued notices to RJD supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav and his wife Rabri Devi in the Rs 46-lakh disproportionate assets (DA) case, the CBI decided to challenge the Nitish government’s right to appeal against the acquittal of the duo in the case which was an off-shoot of the multi-crore fodder scam.

The CBI move came close on the heels of the charges levelled against it by the Nitish government with being influenced by Lalu Prasad to dilute the DA case against him.

The then special judge of CBI Munilal Paswan had acquitted Lalu and Rabri in the DA case on December 18 and the Nitish government subsequently challenged the order on February 19 after the CBI had failed to file an appeal against the acquittal.

Incidentally, the CBI had earlier argued that it had enough evidence to appeal against the acquittal.

Arguing on behalf of the CBI, additional solicitor-general Gopal Subramaniam told Justice R.K. Dutta of the Patna High Court today that under the Delhi Police Establishment Act, the CBI alone was empowered to appeal against the acquittal of the accused in cases probed by it.

The CBI said since investigation into this case was done on the directive of a Bench of the Patna High Court monitoring the probe of the fodder scam case, the state government could not have gone in appeal against the acquittal.

The CBI thus urged the court not to entertain the state’s petition challenging the appeal on the plea that the state government was not involved in the investigation. “It was only the prosecuting agency that could have filed an appeal against the acquittal,” Subramaniam said.

The sudden change in the CBI’s stand thus pitted the Nitish government against both Lalu and Rabri, and the central prosecuting agency in the high profile DA case.

Bihar advocate-general P.K. Shahi said even if the CBI did not challenge the acquittal, the state government expected it to be a party in the petition filed by it challenging Lalu and Rabri’s acquittal.

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