Setback for Lalu; Supreme Court Orders Re-opening of the Fodder Scam

RJD President Lalu Prasad Yadav (file photo).

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New Delhi: A day after Arnab Goswami's bombshell audio recording between Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav and notorious gangster and Tihar jailbird Mohammed Shahabuddin rocked the political landscape of Bihar, things got worse for the RJD leader on Monday when the Supreme Court of India ruled that Yadav and other accused in the '90s fodder scandal will face separate trials for each case involving illegal withdrawal from Banka Treasury.

Slamming the Jharkhand High Court for dropping many charges against Yadav, including the charge of conspiracy, the Supreme Court said that the High Court ignored many key facts and principles of law in the Rs. 1000 crore animal husbandry scam by providing relief to the main accused.

The Supreme Court also chastised the CBI, the investigative body, for dragging its foot and failing to file an appeal in the dropping of charges against Yadav.

"The CBI failed to meet the standard and also failed to live up to its reputation," the apex court said.

While a number of accused in the fodder scam that took place during Lalu regime in Bihar in the '90s are now deceased, others, besides Yadav, who would face the trial once again include former Chief Minister of Bihar Jagannath Mishra and a senior bureaucrat of the time Sajal Chakrabarty.

Yadav, who is currently out of jail in the fodder scam on bail, is now under fire for keeping line of communication open with a convicted criminal like Mohammed Shahabuddin after noted journalist Arnab Goswami, at the launch of his new television channel called Republic on Sunday, released an audio tape of what appears to be conversation between Shahabuddin, a former RJD MP from Siwan, and the RJD chief.

The conversation between Yadav and Shahabuddin allegedly took place last year on April 15 when the former Siwan MP was still lodged in Siwan Jail.

The RJD camp has dubbed the recording as 'doctored'.

If convicted again, Yadav, who faces legal proceedings under a number of Acts, could end up in jail for life.

The trial has to be completed within nine months, the Supreme Court has directed.

Meanwhile, pressure is also building up on the Lalu family for amassing wealth way beyond their reported sources of income. Yadav's two sons, both part of the Nitish cabinet, are under the radar for accumulating properties and businesses through dubious means that the main opposition in Bihar, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is seeking investigation into.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who is a political partner of the RJD and Congress in Bihar, has so far maintained a complete silence over these accusations though a few of the Janata Dal – U spokespersons are insisting that the grand alliance in the state is as strong as ever before and the Nitish administration was facing no threat of a possible collapse.

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