Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad was Monday held guilty in a fodder scam case by a Special CBI court here. The quantum of sentence will be announced October 3.
The multi-million animal husbandry department scam, popularly known as the fodder scam, accuses Lalu Prasad and Jagannath Mishra, both former chief ministers of Bihar, and ministers from the department, two IAS officials and others of fraudulent withdrawal of Rs.37.70 crore from Chaibasa district treasury of Jharkhand. After the division of Bihar, the district is now in Jharkhand.
Special CBI Judge P.K. Singh pronounced the judgment.
Lalu Prasad's lawyer completed arguments in the case September 17.
The verdict is crucial for Lalu Prasad and his future as a political leader since the central government ordinance that would have shielded tainted and convicted parliamentarians and legislators from disqualification may be withdrawn after Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi trashed it.
There were a total of 56 accused in the case. But during the trial, seven accused died, two turned approvers, one admitted to the crime and one was discharged.
Judge P.K. Singh had fixed July 15 as the date for verdict, and asked the remaining 45 accused to be present in the court.
Lalu Prasad moved the Jharkhand High Court and later the Supreme Court, seeking change of the judge in the case. Both the courts dismissed his petition, and directed him to complete argument in the case before the CBI special court.
Lalu Prasad quit the chief minister's post in 1997 when his name figured in the CBI investigations in the scam, which surfaced in 1996.
Around 54 of the 61 cases were transferred to Jharkhand, after it was created as a separate state from Bihar in November 2000. Different CBI courts have passed judgments in more than 43 cases. Lalu Prasad and Jagannath Mishra are accused in five cases.