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What Really Is The Fodder Scam? Here’s Everything You Need To Know

Posted by Sourodipto Sanyal in Politics, Staff Picks
January 10, 2018

On January 6 this year, Lalu Prasad Yadav, the former chief minister of Bihar and Rashtriya Janata Dal supremo was sentenced to 3.5 years in jail and fined ₹10 lakh by a special CBI court in Ranchi, Jharkhand. He had earlier been convicted along with 15 others in the case.

This was his second conviction in a case related to what is now popularly known as the fodder scam. This particular conviction was related to the fraudulent withdrawal of more than ₹89 lakh by the officials of the animal husbandry department (AHD) from the Deoghar district treasury between the years 1991 and 1994.

What Is The Fodder Scam?

According to the Central Bureau of Investigation, large-scale embezzlement of around ₹950 crore by the Bihar’s animal husbandry department from various state government treasuries by showing fake receipts of purchases of equipments, medicines, fodder, etc. took place. It is believed that fraudulent withdrawals had been taking place for a period of 20 years till the mid-1990s.

Who Were The Key Players Involved In The Scam?

Lalu Prasad Yadav

He was the chief minister of Bihar from 1990 to 1997. He resigned in July 1997. This happened after the issue of an arrest warrant against him by a court. His wife was installed as the chief minister.

He was convicted in a case related to the fodder scam in September 2013 by a trial court. The conviction disqualified him as a member of the Lok Sabha. He was fined ₹25 lakhs and sentenced to five years in prison in October 2013.

The Supreme Court granted him bail in December 2013.

Lalu Yadav with his wife Rabri Devi, in 2017.

Jagannath Mishra

Belonging to the Congress, Jagannath Mishra is a three-time former chief minister of Bihar. Along with Lalu Yadav, he was convicted by the trial court in September 2013 in a case related to the fodder scam. He was sentenced to four years of imprisonment. However, in the recent case, he was acquitted.

Shyam Bihari Sinha

He is believed to have been the major kingpin behind the scam. He died in 1998 of natural causes.

How Did It Come To Light?

In 1985, the then Comptroller Auditor General of India TN Chaturvedi pointed out something very important. The month-wise accounts submission from the Bihar treasury were always delayed. Back then, the amount in question was ₹100 crore.

1994 – Prominent BJP leaders like Sushil Modi (current deputy chief minister of Bihar) and Saryu Rai, along with Shivanand Tiwari (a current member of Rashtriya Janata Dal) raised the issue in the Bihar assembly. Prior to this, in 1993, income tax authorities had recovered unaccounted wealth from the houses of many animal husbandry department suppliers and officers

January 1996 – According to the CBI, the then IAS officer Amit Khare reported to the finance department about excess withdrawals from the animal husbandry department during November-December 1995. Further investigation and raids showed that the amount stolen from the animal husbandry department for the year 1994-95 was close to ₹250 crore.

February 1996 – Bihar Police filed 41 FIRs in relation to the case.

March 1996 – Patna high court ordered the CBI to probe instead.

June 1997 – CBI filed chargesheet against 56 people . Lalu Yadav and former chief minister Jagannath Mishra were among the accused.

July 1997 – Lalu Yadav resigned as chief minister and his wife Rabri Devi took charge. He eventually surrendered before the CBI court and was sent to judicial custody.

What Was Lalu’s Role In The Scam? Why Has He Been Convicted?

When he was convicted in 2013, a court in Jharkhand came to the conclusion that Lalu’s complicity was proven without doubt because of circumstantial evidence. According to the income tax department, Lalu made a personal gain of ₹46 lakhs from the fodder scam. A disproportionate assets case was lodged against him. He was acquitted in the case in 2006 by a special CBI court in Ranchi.

Was ‘Fodder’ The ‘Vyapam’ Of The 90s?

The vyapam scam has made huge news in the last three years because of the mysterious deaths of people who are alleged to have been involved in the scam. It is believed they are being killed since they have important information which can help the state agencies in getting to know more about the crime.

According to an India Today report, seven people were also killed after the fodder scam was unearthed in January 1996. This perhaps hints at how vyapam wasn’t the first scam which should have been labelled as ‘khooni’ (bloody).

November 1996 – Lala V Mohan, an assistant director at the animal husbandry department in Jamshedpur was run over by a speeding truck.

September 1996 – Fodder scam accused were fired upon in a vehicle they had been travelling in.

December 1996 – JN Tiwari, a man who was one of the scam accused and also an AHD officer was also killed by a moving truck.

December 1996 – Manu Mandu, a driver of a person accused in the scam was abducted and killed.

May 1997 – A headless dead body was found near the railway tracks in Dhanbad district. The dislocated head was found nearby, in the bushes. The man who had been killed was AHD supplier Harish Khandelwal, an accused in the scam.

May 1997 – A doctor at the animal husbandry department was also killed by a truck in Patna. His 18-year-old daughter also died.

June 1998 – Vivekanand Sharma, the first petitioner seeking a CBI probe at the Ranchi bench of the Patna High Court was shot dead in Ranchi. He was also a leader of the Samata Party.

July 1998 – Uma Shankar Prasad, an employee of the AHD assisting the CBI in its probe was killed after a speeding truck rammed into him after he was returning from work.

What Happens Now?

There are three more cases related to the fodder scam in which Lalu Yadav is accused and trials for which are yet to be concluded.

What remains to be seen is if Lalu Yadav will eventually be granted bail in the current case like he was in the previous one related to the fodder scam.

An immediate bail petition was ruled out since he was not sentenced to less than three years in jail. According to reports, it is expected that he will move the Jharkhand high court for bail in the next few days.

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Image source: Lalu Prasad Yadav/ Facebook