A special CBI court today fixed September 30 as the judgement day for 45 accused, including Lalu Prasad, after the RJD chief completed his arguments in a fodder case.
The court of Pravas Kumar Singh heard the arguments of Prasad's counsel Surendra Singh before reserving the judgement in the case pertaining to fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 37.7 crore from Chaibasa treasury in the early 1990s.
Prasad's advocate contended that the entire prosecution against his client was illegal because the then governor sanctioned prosecution order against the RJD chief without taking the sanction of the Cabinet - an argument the CBI rejected saying it was not necessary for the governor to take the sanction order from Cabinet.
The special courts have already pronounced judgements in 44 out of 53 fodder cases over the years.
During the course of day-to-day arguments which began on September 9, Prasad's advocate claimed his client did not know about the scam till 1996.
The counsel told the court that the former Bihar chief minister was the person who had issued directions to lodge FIR and take action against the guilty soon after he learnt about it on January 21 that year after getting the preliminary report probed by the then Finance Commissioner V S Dubey.
Putting up a strong defence claiming his client's non-involvement in the case reflected in the fact that 41 FIRs had been lodged on his direction in connection with fraudulent withdrawal of funds from different treasuries in undivided Bihar.
Rejecting the CBI's contention that Prasad was in the know of the Rs 950 crore scam in the early years of 1990s itself, the advocate referred to the recent Supreme Court observations equating the CBI with a caged parrot and claimed the analogy fitted exactly in his client's case as he was deliberately framed at the behest of the erstwhile governments.
Prasad had to begin arguments from September 9 after the Supreme Court had turned down his request to change the current special court to another court after the accused apprehended political conspiracy.
Besides fodder suppliers, other accused in this case are IAS officers Mahesh Prasad, Phoolchand Singh, Beck Juleus, K Armugam and Income Tax officer A C Choudhary.
Former Bihar Chief Minister Jagannath Mishra, former Bihar AHD Minister Vidya Sagar Nishar, R K Rana and Dhruv Bhagat were among the accused in this case.
Rana and Bhagat were already convicted in one fodder scam cases in May.
When the fodder scam was unearthed in Chaibasa Treasury after Rs 37.7 crore was allegedly withdrawn by producing fake bills during Lalu Prasad's chief ministership in Bihar, Yadav had ordered an Assembly Committee with Dhruv Bhagat and Jagdish Sharma as members.
Following the delay in the report stating that the Public Accounts Committee should investigate it, a PIL was filed in the Patna High Court by Shivanand Tiwari, Saryu Roy, Rajiv Ranjan Singh and Ravi Shankar Prasad being the advocate.
The Patna High Court had on March 11, 1996 passed an order to transfer the investigations of the Rs 950 crore fodder scam cases to the Central Bureau of Investigations.
A total of 60,000 documents against each of the accused were supported with charge sheet and brought to Ranchi from Patna in a phased manner and by 1999 all the documents and accused were before the court.
On April 5, 2000 charges against all the accused were framed by CBI in the court of S K Lal. By December, 2000, as many as 47 witnesses were examined.
A total of 350 witnesses were examined on behalf of the prosecution and the case was closed on January 2, 2012.
Again in March 2012 the statements of all the witnesses were recorded and then the case was posted for defence for evidence on the accused.
Barring Prasad and Jagdish Sharma all other accused concluded their defence in October 2012. Thereafter, Prasad and Sharma started their defence witnesses.
In the process they wanted to examine a witness who has settled in Thailand. To save time, the prosecution told the court that it would admit whatever papers the defence submitted and A K Pathak took over the court from Judge S K Lal.
After Jharkhand's bifurcation on November 15, 2000, the litigations were brought before the Supreme Court about whether the Patna High Court had the jurisdiction to the cases in this part of the undivided Bihar and trial was stayed till December 2000 to December 2001.
The SC said in November, 2001 that trial would be conducted by special courts of Ranchi.
And all the truck load records were transferred to Ranchi which took about three months.
Trial in Ranchi commenced in March, 2002 by seven special courts.
The case posted for defence of Prasad from May 15 and Prasad's counsel examined 29 witnesses in his defence.
But when the defence continued to skip dates, the court of Pravas Kumar Singh fixed July 15 to deliver the judgement and asked the accused to complete arguments by July 1.
Subsequently, Prasad moved to the Supreme Court pleading shifting his case from the court of Pravas Kumar Singh on the ground of political conspiracy, which the apex court struck down.