New Delhi, Aug 6 The Supreme Court Tuesday reserved its order on a plea by Rashtriya Janata Dal supremo Lalu Prasad seeking transfer of trial of a fodder scam against him to another trial court.
An apex court bench of Chief Justice P. Sathasivam, Justice Ranjan Prakash Desai and Justice Ranjan Gogoi reserved the order after Solicitor General Mohan Prasaran told the court that it would take the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) nearly 40 days to complete its arguments.
The CBI said this in response to a pointed query as to how long the prosecuting agency would take if concluding part of the trial involving final arguments from both the sides were held afresh.
Clarifying that it was not the view of the bench, Chief Justice Sathasivam asked Prasaran: “Suppose if the matter goes to another judge, how long will the prosecution take to complete the arguments?”
Appearing for Lalu Prasad, senior counsel Ram Jethmalani told the court that he was not seeking a trial from the beginning but their only apprehension was that the judgment had already been written and trial court judge seeking written submissions was a farce.
Lalu Prasad had moved the apex court July 9 to transfer the case against him from a CBI special court in Jharkhand to any other court with competent jurisdiction.
Jethmalani told the court that when Lalu Prasad’s counsel was advancing his arguments in defence, the trial court judge put up a notice asking all the parties to submit their written submissions by July 1 as he would pronounce his judgment July 15.
Lalu Prasad claimed there could be bias against him and sought the transfer of the case.
Appearing for Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lallan Singh, on whose public suit the fodder scam came to light nearly two decades ago, senior counsel Shanti Bhushan opposed Lalu’s Prasad’s plea and said that “the public perception in the cases of important politicians is that whatever may be the offence alleged against them they will never be brought to justice”.
The multi-million-rupee fodder scam in Bihar surfaced in 1996 and related to irregularities in the animal husbandary department. Around 54 of the 61 cases were transferred to Jharkhand when it was carved from Bihar in November 2000. Different CBI special courts have passed judgments in more than 40 cases.