CBI doesn’t oppose Lalu plea to shift trial

Lalu has sought transfer of trial from the Ranchi court

Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi | Published: August 7, 2013 1:00 am

The CBI did not oppose and argue against RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav’s petition in the Supreme Court Tuesday for transfer of fodder scam trial.

The former chief minister of Bihar is an accused in a case

pertaining to alleged fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 37.7 crore from Chaibasa Treasury (now in Jharkhand) in the 1990s.

Lalu has sought transfer of trial from the Ranchi court,saying the trial judge is related to Bihar Education Minister P K Shahi.

Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran,representing CBI,did not argue against the petition before a bench led by Justice P Sathasivam Tuesday,though the court had issued a notice to the agency on July 9 seeking a counter-affidavit. CBI had also not appealed a trial court verdict acquitting Lalu and his wife Rabri Devi in a corruption case. The Bihar government,however,later challenged this order in SC,which rejected the appeal in 2010.

The CBI stand Tuesday compelled JD(U) MP Rajiv Ranjan Singh,who has intervened in the matter,to counter the petition.

Senior advocate Shanti Bhushan,who appeared for Singh,asserted transfer of trial on such unsubstantiated claims could send a wrong signal that criminal cases involving politicians can be dragged.

Singh is one of the petitioners who helped expose the fodder scam in Bihar-Jharkhand. He is also a party before Jharkhand High Court,which is monitoring progress of the trials.

Parasaran,however,questioned the locus standi of Singh,contending an intervention by a third party could not be permitted in criminal matters. He also argued Singh was a political rival of Lalu and that a court could not be allowed to be used for a political battle.

Earlier,senior advocate Ram Jethmalani,representing Lalu,claimed the trial judge reserved the verdict in May and fixed the date of judgment as July 31,though the arguments were yet to conclude. Also,by not allowing Lalu’s plea to examine 79 defence witnesses,the judge created “apprehension of prejudice in the mind of accused,” he said.

Senior counsel Bhushan contended it would be a travesty of justice if the judge was transferred at the fag end of the trial.

“The whole country is watching and it would send a wrong impression that criminal cases involving important politicians will go on and on,” he said,adding that “transfer of judge would shake the faith of people in judicial

system.”

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