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Hearing on Lalu-Rabri petition before new Bench begins

Monday 16 May 2005

Patna, May. 16 (PTI): A three-member Bench of the Patna High Court today started "fresh" hearing on Railway Minister and RJD President Lalu Prasad and former Chief Minister Rabri Devi’s petition challenging sanction for their prosecution in disproportionate assets case, an offshoot of the multi-crore fodder scam.

At the outset, Lalu-Rabri’s counsel P N Pandey, and Chitranjan Sinha stated "basic facts" of the case before the new Bench, comprising Justice Ram Nandan Prasad, Justice Barin Ghosh and Justice M L Visa, constituted by acting Chief Justice of the Patna High Court Justice Nagendra Rai.

They told the court that an FIR against the duo in the case amounting to Rs 42.52 lakhs was instituted on August 19, 1998. On March 10, 2000 the then Governor of Bihar A R Kidwai accorded sanction for prosecution of the two following which they surrendered on April 5, 2000 and Rabri Devi was granted bail.

The counsels also challenged prosecution of Rabri under the Prevention of Corruption Act which, they said, applied only to a public servant. But, since Rabri was not holding any office between 1990 and 1996, when the alleged scam took place sanction for her prosecution under this Act was untenable.

They said senior advocate of the Supreme Court P P Rao, would argue in favour of Lalu tomorrow on law points. Additional Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran, is appearing for the CBI.

As per the apex court directives, the verdict on the petition after day-to-day hearing has to be delivered before the court closes for the summer vacation. The summer vacation in the court starts from May 21.

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