What is the land-for-jobs case against Lalu Yadav?

What is the land-for-jobs case against Lalu Yadav?

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) are probing former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, his family and many others in the land-for-jobs case. Yadav is accused of giving jobs in railways in lieu of plots of land from the candidates or their relatives either as gifts or at cheap rates. The probe had started two years ago but the case was registered last year.

Now the agencies are questioning Lalu Prasad Yadav and his family and raiding their properties. The Yadavs have called the case a political vendetta. Their party, the RJD, had said last year that the Yadav family was being harassed after the change of government in Bihar when the JDU under Nitish Kumar ditched its alliance partner the BJP and joined hands with the RJD to form a new government. Lalu Yadav‘s son Tejashwi Yadav had become the deputy CM.

How it began
In May last year, weeks after former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav was released on bail in the fodder scam in which he was convicted by a special court, the CBI registered a new case against him and his family members on the charge of taking land from aspirants in return for jobs in the railways from 2008 to 2009 when he was the Union railway minister in the UPA government.

After conducting a preliminary enquiry since September 2021, the CBI registered the FIR under IPC Section 120-B, which deals with criminal conspiracy, and under provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

What is the land-for-jobs case?
During the period 2004-2009, Yadav had obtained pecuniary advantages in the form of transfer of landed property in the name of his family members in lieu of appointment of ‘substitutes’ on Group D Posts in different zones of railways, the CBI alleged. The candidates were appointed within three days of applying in “undue haste” by the railway officials. They were later also regularized, when the “individuals themselves or their family members transferred their land”.

A number of residents of Patna or through their family members allegedly sold or gifted their lands in the state capital in favour of the family members of Lalu Prasad and a private company controlled by the former chief minister and his family. The transfers were made through deeds in the name of Rabri Devi and daughters Misa Bharti and Hema Yadav, it was alleged. The CBI claimed no advertisement or any public notice was issued for such appointments, yet the appointees who were residents of Patna were appointed as substitutes in different zonal railways at Mumbai, Jabalpur, Kolkata, Jaipur and Hajipur.

In continuation of this modus operandi, about 1,05,292 Sq. feet of immovable properties situated at Patna were acquired by Yadav and his family members through five sales deeds and two gift deeds, showing the payment made to the seller in cash in most of the land transfers, the CBI alleged.The arrest of Lalu’s OSD Bhola Yadav
In July last year, the CBI arrested Bhola Yadav, former Officer on Special Duty (OSD) of Lalu Prasad in connection with the land-for-jobs case. Bhola served as OSD to Lalu Prasad during 2005-09.

The CBI claimed in the court, while seeking custodial interrogation of Bhola Yadav, that most of the applications submitted by individuals seeking jobs were not addressed to any specific zonal railway, rather they were addressed to GM Railway, Govt. of India, or rail minister. Sources told ET that the CBI had found a list of over 1,450 such applications. The list was found during raids on the premises linked to Lalu Prasad, Rabri Devi, Bhola Yadav and the other accused in the case.

The CBI alleged that Bhola Yadav had witnessed execution of various sale deeds and gift deeds relevant to the case. These deeds were executed in the names of family members of Lalu Prasad by various persons whose family members were given jobs in railways.

The agency has alleged that Bhola Yadav was persuading the engagement of various candidates as substitutes in Group-D with the concerned railway authorities. It has further alleged that Yadav was instrumental in finalisation/execution of the land deals.

Bhola Yadav was collecting applications from various candidates for engagement as substitutes in Group-D at the camp office of railway minister at official residence of Rabri Devi and Lalu Prasad at 10 Circular Road, Patna, the CBI alleged.

The chargesheet against Lalu Yadav, family and others
In October last year, the CBI filed a chargesheet against Lalu Yadav, his wife Rabri Devi and daughter Misa Bharti. In all, the agency chargesheeted 16 people including two former senior railway officials and seven candidates who allegedly “sold” their land to Yadav and his family in lieu of jobs.

“During the probe, it was found that the accused, in conspiracy with the then general manager, Central Railways, and chief personnel officer, Central Railways, engaged persons as ‘substitutes’ in lieu of land either in their name or in the name of their close relatives,” an agency spokesperson said. “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 used false transfer certificates and submitted false attested documents to the Ministry of Railways,” the official added. “About 1,05,292 sq feet of land/immovable properties were acquired by the family members of said minister through five sale deeds and two gift deeds, showing the payment made to the seller in cash in most of the land transfers,” the CBI official alleged.

Apart from Yadav, his wife and daughter, the CBI charged Sowmya Raghvan, former general manager, and Kamal Deep Mainrai, former chief personnel officer with the central railways. Seven candidates — Rajkumar Singh, Mithilesh Kumar, Ajay Kumar, Dharmendra Kumar, Vikas Kumar and Abhishek Kumar — have been charged as well. Four other individuals — Ravindra Rai, Kiran Devi, Akhileshwar Singh and Ramashish Singh — were also named in the chargesheet.

It was alleged that the candidates sold or gifted their land also to a private company controlled by the Yadav family.

The CBI gets Centre’s sanction to prosecute Lalu Prasad
In January this year, the CBI got the Centre’s sanction to prosecute Lalu Prasad in the land-for-jobs case. The agency submitted the sanction before a special court. Sanction to prosecute from the competent authority is a prerequisite for the special court to take cognizance of the charge sheet filed by the agency.

Court summons Lalu Prasad, Rabri Devi in land-for-job scam
In February this year, a Delhi court summoned Lalu Prasad, his wife Rabri Devi and 14 others in the land-for-jobs case. The court directed the accused persons to appear before the court on March 15.

“A perusal of the chargesheet and the documents and material on record, prima facie, shows commission of offences under Section 120B (criminal conspiracy), read with sections 420 (cheating), 467 (forgery of valuable security, will, etc.), 468 (Forgery for purpose of cheating) and 471 (using forged document as genuine) of the IPC and various sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act. Accordingly, cognizance is taken of the said offences,” the judge said, and noted that the chargesheet was filed without arrest in respect of the accused persons except one [Bhola Yadav] who was on bail.

The CBI questions Lalu Prasad, Rabri Devi
The CBI on March 7 questioned Lalu Prasad in the land-for-jobs case. He was quizzed for nearly five hours in two sessions by the central agency at the New Delhi residence of Misa Bharti, Lalu Prasad’s daughter, with whom he has been staying after a recent kidney transplant procedure. A day ago, the CBI had questioned Rabri Devi at her Patna residence for over five hours.

The ED raids Tejashwi Yadav’s Delhi house
On March 10, the ED raided Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav’s Delhi house in connection with the land-for-jobs case. The ED also conducted searches in multiple cities of Bihar, covering some leaders linked to the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD). The ED has been separately investigating the case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

Tejashwi Yadav was summoned by the CBI to join the probe on March 4 and get his statement recorded in the case.Yadav has sought more time from the CBI, citing his wife’s health issues.

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