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Lalu, Rabri acquitted in disproportionate assets case

Monday 18 December 2006

Patna, Dec. 18 (PTI): Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav today won a major legal battle when he and his wife, former Bihar Chief Minister, Rabri Devi, were acquitted in the disproportionate assets case against them.

Lalu and his wife were present when the CBI Judge Muni Lal Paswan pronounced the verdict in a jam-packed court here, sending their supporters outside into a frenzied jubilation. The case in which the Railway Minister was accused of amassing property worth Rs 46 lakhs above his known source of income between 1990 and 97 as Bihar Chief Minister was an offshoot of the infamous Fodder Scam. Rabri Devi was accused of abetting her husband.

Lalu was the main accused in the case while his wife was charged by the CBI with aiding and abetting her husband in the alleged crime. It was this case, which had led the CBI, for the first time, to raid the official residence of the Chief Minister.

During the trial the CBI, which registered the case against Lalu on August 19, 1998, stuck to its charge that he had accumulated assets of over Rs 46 lakhs disproportionate to his known sources of income between March 1990 and March 1997 as Bihar Chief Minister, the defence contended the assets were all accounted for.

While 94 witnesses, including Brigadier R P Nautial, ex-director general of CRPF A P Dorai and former Speaker late Radhanandan Jha, were presented for the defence, a total of 132 people, including former CBI SP of Patna, V S K Kaumudi, deposed for the prosecution.

The FIR in the case was registered by Kaumudi under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The chargesheet was filed on April 4, 2000 by him against Lalu for allegedly possessing assets worth Rs 46,26,820 disproportionate to his known sources of income.

The name of then Chief Minister Rabri Devi was included in the chargesheet for abetment of the offence under section 109 IPC read with section 13(1)(e) of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Charges were framed against Lalu and Rabri Devi on June 9, 2000.

Apart from the disproportionate assets case, Lalu’s name figures in as many as six cases of the multi-crore rupee fodder scam, estimated to run into more than Rs 900 crores.

Out of these, one case is pending with the CBI court here while the rest were transferred to the court of special CBI judges at Ranchi since the place of occurrence of offences was within the territory of Jharkhand state.

Lalu has filed a discharge petition the case here, while charges have been framed against him in all the five cases in Jharkhand.

Reacting to the verdict Lalu said, "We have got justice. We are very happy. We have faith in the judiciary." Rabri Devi also echoed the same sentiment.

The acquittal of RJD Chief Lalu has come as a big relief to the UPA Government at the Centre, which is under attack on the tainted Ministers issue.

A fortnight ago to the embarrassment of the UPA Government, JMM chief Shibu Soren was convicted for the murder of his Secretary Shashi Nath Jha. Soren, resigned as Coal Minister in the Union Cabinet, after he was convicted and later sentenced to life imprisonment.

Lalu, Rabri ’remain guilty’ in public eye: BJP

New Delhi, Dec. 18 (PTI): The BJP today appeared unwilling to absolve Lalu Prasad of corruption charges despite his acquittal by a CBI court, saying the RJD chief and his wife "remained guilty" in public eyes.

"We would not like to comment on the judicial verdict, but we believe that in the public eye, Lalu Prasad and those named in the case remain guilty of misusing public money and their position," BJP vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said.

In support of his remarks, Naqvi cited the RJD’s rout in Bihar elections.

A CBI court in Patna acquitted the Railway Minister and his wife Rabri Devi in connection with a disproportionate assets case against them.

The case in which Prasad was accused of ammassing property worth Rs 46 lakh above his known source of income between 1990 and 1997 as Bihar Chief Minister was an offshoot of the infamous fodder scam.

Judiciary like god to me: Lalu

Patna, Dec. 18 (PTI): Thankful for the "divine intervention" leading to his acquittal and that of his wife and former Bihar Chief Minister Rabri Devi, a grateful Railway Minister Lalu Prasad today said, "the judiciary is like god to me."

"God is great and so is the judiciary. It (judiciary) is like god to me," a visibly relieved duo told reporters at Rabri Devi’s residence 10, Circular Road.

Lalu said, "I am thankful to god that truth has finally prevailed despite long years of our trial by the media and the rival parties. I always had great faith in the judiciary."

"I am happy, very happy indeed that justice has finally been done to us," said Rabri Devi sporting a broad smile.

Asked whether he felt relaxed now that the court had given its verdict in their favour, Lalu said "this is one thing that is not in my destiny."

Several RJD Ministers in the Central Government including Akhilesh Prasad Singh, Kanti Singh and Jaiprakash Narayan Yadav and several party MLAs and senior workers were present.

Kanti Devi was seen exchanging sweets with Rabri Devi.

See online : The Hindu

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