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'Show cause why your bail should not be cancelled'

By J. Venkatesan

NEW DELHI, OCT. 1. The Supreme Court today issued notice to the Rashtriya Janata Dal leader, Lalu Prasad, to show cause why his bail in the Rs. 900-crore fodder scam cases should not be cancelled since he was allegedly interfering in the trial ever since he became the Railway Minister.

A Bench, consisting of Justice S.N. Variava and Justice H.K. Sema, issued the notice on a petition filed by two Lok Sabha MPs — one belonging to the BJP and another to the Janata Dal (United) — alleging that Mr. Lalu Prasad, as the key accused in the cases, had "interfered" with the trial at each and every stage.

Notice to Rabri, CBI

The Bench also issued notice to Mr. Lalu Prasad's wife, Rabri Devi, Chief Minister of Bihar, on why her bail should not be cancelled in the same cases. Notices were also issued to the Centre, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) seeking their response. On September 24, the court had issued notice to Mr. Lalu Prasad on a public interest litigation petition seeking removal of ``tainted'' Ministers in the Union Cabinet.

Charge

The petition filed by Sushil Modi (BJP) and Rajiv Ranjan Singh (JD-U) alleged that a Rs. 45-lakh disproportionate assets case against Mr. Lalu Prasad and Ms. Rabri Devi, was recently disposed of by the Income-Tax Tribunal hurriedly by deputing a member-judicial from Delhi to Patna before that officer retired from service.

Pressure

The petitioners submitted that when Mr. Lalu Prasad was granted bail, liberty was given to the CBI to initiate the proceedings for cancellation of his bail if such events (interference in the case) took place. They alleged that after he became a Minister in May, the Public Prosecutor conducting the trial in the last 10 years was shifted within a week and a retired police officer, with only five years of legal practice, was appointed in his place. This was "indicative of clear interference in the trial proceedings."

The petitioners submitted that Mr. Lalu Prasad had a substantial administrative control and political say in the functioning of the Government at the Centre and he had been claiming publicly that he was in a position to destabilise the Government at will. Succumbing to his "pressure", the CBI and the CBDT were shielding Mr. Lalu Prasad and his wife.

`Cancel bail'

Appearing for the petitioners, senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi said that Mr. Lalu Prasad and his wife were "misusing" the bail granted to them and were "interfering" with the trial and investigation. The court must cancel the bail granted to them for securing justice and a fair trial.

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