Home > Indian Scams > 1996 Fodder Scam

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The fodder scam broke out in 1996 and it involved the apparent misappropriation of nearly Rs 950 crores from the treasury of the Bihar government. The fodder scam involves big heads mostly the government officials of the Bihar State Government and also a number of elected officials of various administrative departments of the Bihar state. The scandal involves the cock and bull story of herds and herds of imaginary livestock" for which fodder, medicines and animal husbandry equipment was supposedly bought. Though the scandal was brought into light in 1996, there was no termination for it for the scandal simultaneously grew in progress for nearly a period of over two decades. Besides its enormity and the length of time for which it was said to have existed, the scam was and continues to be covered in Indian media due to the substantial and series of connections linking two or more tenured bureaucrats, elected politicians and business people that the fodder scam exposed.

Soon it became very evident from various medias that the then Chief Minister of Bihar, Lalu Prasad was the key person involved in the scandal and its legal proceedings led to an increased pressure in the removal of Lalu Prasad Yadav from his holding of the post Chief Minister. So Lalu Prasad resigned from his Ministership on July 25, 1997 but he was smart enough to install his wife Rabri Devi as the Chief Minister on the very same day he resigned from his Chief Minister posting. Big political leaders and former Chief Ministers like Lalu Prasad Yadav and Jagnath Mishra were noted and filed a number of charge sheets for their involvement in the fodder scam. Since the year 2000 number of people including political and government officials from various departments have been remanded several times. Nearly 200 people have been punished with jail terms of between 2 and 7 years. Since it broke into public light, the fodder scam has become symbolic of bureaucratic corruption and the criminalization of politics in India generally, and in Bihar in particular. Lalu Prasad Yadav takes the credit of being the only person on whom the Lok Sabha debated for a complete session as the official agenda. According to an official report submitted it states that there was totally 53 cases which was filed against the fodder scam as on May 23rd, 2013.

The fodder scam is supposed to have started in a small level pilfering which involved a few government employees who submitted false reports showing major expenses. As this misappropriation or theft grew in size it pulled in some more people like politician and businessmen and slowly a fully developed organized group of criminals resembling the Mafia were formed. The former Chief Minister Jagnath Mishra was the earliest to be accused in the fodder scam for his involvement. It was noticed by the then Comptroller and Auditor General of India, T.N. Chaturvedi in February 1985 that there was a delay in the submission of the monthly accounts by the treasury department of the Bihar state. So T.N. Chaturvedi took this to the notice of the then Bihar Chief Minister Chandrashekhar Singh were a warning letter was sent to him that this could be serving as a sign of interim pilferage. Critical observations and cautions were given to the Bihar government across the term of office of multiple Chief Ministers by the Principal Accountant Generals (PAGs) and Comptroller Auditor General (CAGs) from the Centre. But however all these warnings given by the higher officials were all ignored in a manner that was suggestive of a pattern by extremely senior political and bureaucratic officials in the Bihar government. Bidhu Bhushan Dvivedi who served as a police Inspector in the department of anti corruption vigilance during the period of 1992, submitted a report to his senior official G. Narayan who was the then Director General of the same vigilance unit.

As already mentioned the prime accused of the fodder scam was the former and the then Chief minister of Bihar state, Mr. Lalu Prasad Yadav. During a press conference in 1985, the Animal Husbandry Mafia gang was revealed for the first time by the Bihar Veterinary Association. There was a change in the members of the executive committee of Bihar Veterinary Association and Dr R K Rana became the General Secretary of BVA. Once again the mafia took control over the Veterinary Association and they went all guns blazing. As this was going some of the Ex-office bearers of BVA namely Dr. Dharmendra Sinha and Dr. Biresh Prasad Sinha started working on to put an end to the unethical practice of Mafia by seriously collecting and gathering information on the scandal. It was on 27 January 1996, Amit Khare, the Deputy Commissioner of West Singhbhum district, under his leadership conducted an official raid in all the offices and various fields of the animal husbandry department in the town of Chaibasa in the district. They were able to seize a number of documents from all these offices and exposed to the public through various Medias that the theft involved a group of mafia of officials and business people. Ravi S. Jha, a journalist with the Asian Age then in Kolkata was the person to bring into light the fodder scam stating the implicit involvement of the former Bihar Chief Ministers in the fodder scandal. Based on evidence collected by him from Chaibasa, Jha not only found out widespread involvement of the Bihar government machinery in the scam, he even mentioned how earlier governments too were taking advantage of a low grade system.

Top government officials along with the ministers were refusing to obey the norms so as to make money illegally. Soon it was also discovered that the members of the probing committee were also involved in the unlawful activities. After this public interest litigation was filed with the Supreme Court of India, which led to the involvement of the court. However in March 1996, the Bihar High Court ordered that the case be handed over to the Central Bureau of investigation. Once the investigation was started by the CBI they were able unearth the truth that the then Chief Minister of Bihar Laloo Prasad Yadav had a major a link in the scandal. So the Central Bureau of Investigation gave a formal request to the federally-appointed Governor of Bihar to conduct legal proceedings against Laloo for which the permission was granted by the Governor on June 17, 1996. Also on the same day five senior government officials who were supposed to be a part of the fodder scandal were taken into judicial custody.

Of the five government officials four were IAS officers namely Mahesh Prasad, (science and technology secretary) K. Arumugam, (labour secretary) Beck Julius, (animal husbandry department secretary) Phoolchand Singh, (former finance secretary) and Ramraj Ram (former AHD director). The CBI conducted raids on Laloo's residence and those of some relatives suspected of complicity and started to prepare a charge sheet to be filed against Laloo and 55 other co- accused who worked for him in this scandal. Some of the co accused include Chandradeo Prasad Verma (a former union minister), Jagannath Mishra (former Bihar chief minister), two members of Laloo's cabinet (Bhola Ram Toofani and Vidya Sagar Nishad), three Bihar state assembly legislators (RK Rana of the Janata Dal, Jagdish Sharma of the Congress party, and Dhruv Bhagat of the Bharatiya Janata Party) and some current and former IAS officers including the 4 who were already in custody.

On July 26th, 1996 the Bihar State Government ordered the state police to arrest Laloo for which Laloo already tried getting an anticipatory bail which was rejected and later he appealed to the Supreme Court, which resulted in a final denial of bail on 29 July. However the very next day Laloo was arrested and was kept in comfort at the Bihar Military Police guest house. Laloo was released on 12 December 1997 after being in a judicial custody for nearly 135 days. The trial on the fodder scam was completed on May 2013 where nearly 500 are accused and punished for various grounds by the jury. Some of the most prominent convicts include former CM of Bihar Lalu Prasad, former Member of Parliament RK Rana and former Member of Legislative Assembly Dhruv Bhagat.The court has declared a sentence of 5 years and 4 years for Laloo and Jagannath Mishra respectively.

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