Millennium Post

SC indicates change of judge in fodder scam

In a relief to Rashtriya Janta Dal (RJD) supremo and former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad, the Supreme Court on Tuesday indicated to change the judge of the case trying fodder scam in a special court in Jharkhand in view of his apprehension of bias.

He is one of the accused in the case and the pronouncement of verdict in the case was stayed by the apex court early this month. The court also said that its interim order staying the trial court proceedings would remain in force.
A bench of Chief Justice P Sathasivam and Ranjan Gogoi said that it would pass the order either directing the high court to appoint a new judge or would itself do so if there is consensus among the parties on name of the judge. The court asked the counsel of Lalu Prasad, CBI and JD(U) leader Rajiv Ranjan Singh to evolve a consensus on the name of the judge and posted the matter for 6 August. Rajiv Ranjan Singh's counsel opposed Lalu Prasad's plea; however, the court was of the view that it would be better to change the judge in view of allegation levelled against him.

Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) could not clear its stand and sought more time to file its response on the allegations of Lalu Prasad that CBI judge P K Singh is biased against him. The apex court, on 9 July, had asked CBI to file its response on the allegations.

The trial court judge was to pronounce its order on 15 July in the case, but the apex court had stayed the order after Lalu Prasad questioned the impartiality of the judge alleging that he is biased as he is a relative of PK Shahi, Education minister in Nitish Kumar government in Bihar. During the hearing in the case on 9 July, the court had said that the issue raised by Lalu Prasad requires examination and had also said that it would dismiss the petition if CBI refuted the allegation of any biasness on the part of the judge of the trial court.

Lalu Prasad had approached the apex court after the Jharkhand high court on 1 July had dismissed his plea to transfer the case to another special CBI court. The high court had said that nothing was placed before it by Lalu Prasad to prove that the judge does have any association with Shahi except that he is distantly related with him.

The case, known as fodder scam case, surfaced in 1996 in undivided Bihar. Around 54 of the 61 cases were transferred to Jharkhand when it was carved from Bihar in November 2000. Various CBI special courts have passed judgements in more than 43 cases.
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