Lawsuits on Lalu’s acquittal to be heard Wednesday

New Delhi, March 9 (IANS) The Supreme Court Tuesday slated for detailed hearing Wednesday a bunch of lawsuits, both endorsing and challenging the acquittal of former Railway Minister Lalu Prasad and his wife Rabri Devi in a corruption case.

A bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice B.S. Chauhan deferred the lawsuits for detailed hearing Wednesday saying that it does not have sufficient time Tuesday to hear the case.

The case against the Yadav couple involved acquisition of and accumulation of wealth far exceeding their legal income during their tenure as Bihar chief ministers.

In the wake of the fodder scam, involving illegal and unauthorized withdrawal of billions of rupees from the Bihar government exchequer between 1992 and 1997 on the pretext of buying fodders for animals, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had booked the Yadav couple on charges of amassing property worth Rs 4.6 million above their legal income.

The Yadav couple, however, were acquitted of all charges in the seven-year-old disproportionate assets case by Special CBI Judge Muni Lal Paswan on Dec 18, 2006.

The Bihar government subsequently in early 2007 had moved the Patna High Court challenging their acquittal contending that owing to a Congress-led government at the centre, enjoying the support of the Yadav-led Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), the CBI was not keen to challenge the acquittal.

The Yadav couple along with the CBI, in turn, moved the apex court last October questioning the state government’s power to challenge their acquittal.

The CBI and the Yadav couple have come to the apex court contending that Bihar government has no statutory power to interfere with a case probed and prosecuted by the CBI.

In response to lawsuits by the CBI and the Yadav’s couple, the Bihar government has asserted that it has all the right to challenge the acquittal of the Yadavs as it was the state’s exchequer, which had been defrauded by the alleged illegal and corrupt acts of omission and commission by them.

The Bihar government has also accused the CBI of succumbing to the undue pressure of former Railway Minister Lalu Prasad in not challenging his acquittal along with that of his wife Rabri Devi in the case as Lalu Prasad was a powerful minister in the last United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government and extended crucial support to it.

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