The Rouse Avenue Court on Wednesday granted regular bail to former Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, Rabri Devi, their daughter Misa Bharti, and other accused in connection with the case related to the alleged land-for-job scam. The Special Judge Geetanjali Goel noted on Wednesday, while granting regular bail, that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had not arrested any accused in the case and that the charge sheet was filed without arrests.
The court directed all the accused to furnish a Rs 50,000 personal bail bond and a like amount as surety. The case will next be heard on March 29. Lalu Yadav was seen arriving at the Rouse Avenue Court in a wheelchair. The former Bihar Chief Minister had undergone a kidney transplant in Singapore three months ago.
Appearing for several accused (landholders) in the case, Advocate Mudit Jain stated that the CBI chose not to arrest the accused person, which is in itself evidence of their cooperation. The allegations are based on the assumption that the sale was done for valid consideration. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in its chargesheet filed in connection with the alleged land-for-job scam stated that irregular appointments of candidates were made in Central Railway, violating the laid down norms and procedures of Indian Railways for recruitment.
As a quid-pro-quo, the candidates, directly or through their immediate relatives or family members, sold land to the family members of Lalu Prasad Yadav (then Union Railway Minister) at highly discounted rates up to one-fourth to one-fifth of the prevailing market rates, stated the CBI.
The probe agency further stated that investigation has revealed that Lalu Prasad Yadav, during the period 2007-08, when he was Union Railway Minister, with the intent to acquire the land parcels situated in Village Mahuabagh, Patna, and Village Kunjwa, Patna, which were situated adjacent to the land parcels already owned by his family members, entered into a criminal conspiracy with his wife Rabri Devi, daughter Misa Bharati, Officers of Central Railways namely Sowmya Raghvan, the then General Manager, Kamal Deep Mainrai, the then Chief Personnel Officer, and residents of Village Mahjabagh, Patna, and Village Bindaul, Bihta, Patna and Patna City namely Raj Kumar Singh, Mithlesh Kumar, Ajay Kumar, Sanjay Kumar, Dharmendra Kumar, Vikas Kumar, Abhishek Kumar, Ravindra Ray, Kiran Devi, Akhileshwar Singh, and Ramashish Singh.
According to the CBI, all the candidates after their engagement as substitutes were subsequently regularized. Instead of appointing them to the railways, Lalu Prasad Yadav had the lands owned by the candidates and their family members transferred into the names of his wife Rabri Devi and Misha Bharti for a much lower price than the prevailing circle rates and market rates.
Earlier, the court, while taking cognizance of the charge sheet, said that after going through the charge sheet and the documents and material on record, prima facie evidence shows the commission of offenses under Section 120B read with Sections 420, 467, 468, and 471 of the IPC and Sections 8, 9, 11, 12, and 13 (2) read with Section 13 (1) (d) of the PC Act, 1988, and substantive offenses thereunder. Accordingly, cognizance is taken of the said offences. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) filed the chargesheet in October last year against former Bihar chief ministers Lalu Prasad, Rabri Devi, their daughter Misa Bharti, and 13 others in the land-for-jobs scam.
The chargesheet stated that “during the investigation, it has been found that the accused, in conspiracy with the then GM of Central Railways and the CPO of Central Railways, engaged persons as substitutes in lieu of land, either in their names or in the names of their close relatives. This land was acquired at prices lower than the prevailing circle rate and much lower than the market rate. “It was also alleged that the candidates have used false TC and submitted false attested documents to the Ministry of Railways,” the CBI claimed in a press statement.
The alleged scam occurred when Yadav was railway minister between 2004 and 2009. Apart from the RJD leader, the chargesheet also includes the name of the then Railway General Manager.
The CBI stated that the investigation had revealed that the candidates were considered for their engagement without any need for substitutes, and there was no urgency for their appointment, which was one of the main criteria behind the engagement of substitutes. They joined their duties much later after the approval of their appointment, and they were subsequently regularized.
There were several anomalies discovered in the candidates’ applications and the documents that were enclosed, which meant that the applications should not have been processed and their engagement should not have been approved, but it was. Further, in most cases, the candidates joined their jobs in their respective divisions on much later dates, which defeated the purpose of the appointment of substitutes. In some cases, the candidates could not clear their medical examination under the required category to which their engagement was made, and subsequently, they were considered for and appointed to the posts where an inferior or lower medical category was required, said the CBI.