In fresh trouble for RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Friday conducted raids at 15 different locations in Bihar and Delhi linked to him and his daughter, Misa Bharti, in connection with a land for job scam. The scam involved taking land from unemployed youths on the pretext of providing them government jobs, at the time when Lalu was a Union Minister.
The alleged land-for-jobs scam pertains to the period when Lalu Prasad Yadav was the railway minister in the UPA government, officials said.
“Yadav, when he was the Union minister, through his aide or directly told the innocent persons that he would help them get government jobs. And they took land from the job seekers. However, the jobs were not provided to all,” reports quoted sources as saying. The development comes weeks after the RJD leader was granted bail in the Rs 950-crore fodder scam case. He has already been convicted in five cases of the fodder scam.
As the leader wades through another controversy, News18 provides a brief look into the cases against Lalu Yadav:
Fodder Scams or ‘Chara Ghotala’
The RJD patriarch had recently been granted bail by the Jharkhand High Court in the Doranda Treasury Case in which a CBI special court had sentenced him to five years in prison.
Lalu Yadav was found guilty in the Rs 139.5 crore Doranda treasury embezzlement case, the fifth and final case against him, in the fodder scam. The former Bihar chief minister was among the remaining convicts whose quantum of sentence was pronounced in February. Of the 99 accused, 24 were acquitted in the last fodder scam case, while a three-year jail term was awarded to 46 others.
The veteran leader had earlier been sentenced to 14 years in jail in four other fodder scam cases. The final case was related to withdrawals of Rs 139.35 crore from Doranda treasury during his tenure as the chief minister of undivided Bihar. He was out on bail when he was convicted again.
The fodder scam, pegged at Rs 950 crore, was first unearthed by the then Chaibasa deputy commissioner, Amit Khare. The Animal Husbandry Department had allegedly issued fake bills for large disbursements from government treasuries in various districts of undivided Bihar. Lalu Yadav, then the chief minister, also held the finance portfolio.
When expenditure information were not provided in a timely manner, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) cautioned about money laundering in Bihar’s treasuries in 1985. The Congress was in power in the state at the time, and the chief minister was Jagannath Mishra.
Finally, in 1996, the animal husbandry department’s deputy commissioner Amit Khare authorised a search. The documents collected suggested that money was embezzled under the guise of supplying fodder. It began with small-scale fraud perpetrated by low-level government personnel, but it has now expanded to include corporations and politicians.
The state administration established two commissions following the searches. One of them was led by state development commissioner Phoolchand Singh, who was eventually implicated in the scheme. As a result, the commission had to be cancelled. On the orders of the state government, the Bihar police filed many FIRs.
Several public interest litigations (PILs) were also filed in the Patna high court to have the matter transferred to the CBI. “According to the state, excess drawals in the Department have been taking place since 1977-78. I am of the view that the proposed enquiry and investigation should cover the entire period from 1977-78 to 1995-96,” the Patna high court in a March 11, 1996 order said, according to a report by the Wire.
“I would, accordingly, direct the CBI through its Director, to enquire and scrutinize all cases of excess drawals and expenditure in the department of Animal Husbandry in the State of Bihar during the period 1977-78 to 1995-96 and lodge cases where the drawls are found to be fraudulent in character, and take the investigation in those cases to its logical end, as early as possible; preferable, within four months,” the court order said.
The roles of Lalu, former chief minister Jagannath Mishra, and top officials came under scrutiny as the CBI launched its investigation.
First Conviction & What Followed
In 2013, the RJD chief was convicted in the first fodder scam case and sentenced to five years in prison for Chaibasa illegal withdrawal of cases. The verdict also prohibited him from running for office for 11 years, in accordance with a Supreme Court ruling prohibiting prisoners serving more than two years in prison from running for office for six years after serving their term.
He was later granted bail in the case. On December 23, 2017, Lalu was sentenced to three and a half years in prison by a special CBI court for illegally withdrawing more than Rs 80 lakh from the Deoghar treasury. On January 24, 2018, he was found guilty in the third case, which involved illicit withdrawals from the Chaibasa treasury of Rs 33.67 crore, and was sentenced to five years in prison. On March 4, 2018, the fourth one, involving an illegal withdrawal of Rs 3.13 crore from the Dumka treasury, sentenced him to seven years in prison.
Lalu was charged with having disproportionate assets in 1998. The RJD leader was accused of pocketing Rs 46 lakh from the government coffers by the Income Tax Department, which also listed Rabri as a co-accused for aiding and abetting the crime.
In 2000, the pair surrendered before a CBI court. Rabri, who was the Chief Minister at the time, was released on bond. The Patna High Court then granted Lalu bail as well. In 2006, they were found not guilty in the case.
Misa Money Laundering Case
The ED is investigating Lalu’s daughter Misa Bharti and her husband Shailesh Kumar in a money laundering case. The couple is said to be linked to Ms Mishail Printers and Packers Private Limited, which allegedly violated the Prevention of Money Laundering Act of 2002.
The CBI is looking into allegations of irregularities in tenders awarded to Sujata Hotels, a private firm, for the creation, maintenance, and management of two railway hotels in Ranchi and Puri. The scandal, dubbed the IRCTC scam, began when Lalu was the UPA government’s railways minister in 2004. According to the CBI, Rabri and Tejashwi were given prime property in Patna at bargain prices in exchange for their cooperation, mentioned reports.
According to the CBI, Lalu abused his position by favouring Sujata Hotel, which is owned by Vinay and Vijay Kochhar. In exchange, he received Rs 1.5 crore from a benami firm, Delight Marketing Company, for “high-value premium land.” Rabri and Tejashwi gradually gained control of the corporation between 2010 and 2014. Meanwhile, the Enforcement Directorate recently attached a three-acre plot in Patna worth Rs 44.7 crore that allegedly belonged to RJD chairman Lalu Prasad’s family and was to be the site of one of the city’s largest malls. The property is also the subject of a CBI investigation, and members of the family have been questioned by central agencies under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
With inputs from PTI and IANS.