Patna, March 1: A Bihar court Thursday framed charges against former chief ministers Lalu Prasad and Jagannath Mishra along with 32 other accused in the case related to fraudulent withdrawal of funds from the treasury to purchase fodder for public distribution, court officials said.
After all of them appeared before a special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in the multi-crore fodder scam case, charges were framed against them. The court also said trial against the accused, including Lalu Prasad and Mishra, would begin soon.
The move is seen in political circles as a major setback for Lalu Prassad, who heads the Rashtriya Janata Dal, the main opposition party in Bihar.
Last year the court had dismissed the discharge petitions of the accused. It had fixed March 1 as the date for framing charges against them and asked them to be present on the day.
The case, which has come to be known as the fodder scam, was filed against Lalu Prasad, Mishra and others for allegedly conspiring to fraudulently withdraw Rs.47 lakh from the Bhagalpur treasury between 1995 and 1996.
CBI had filed a chargesheet against 44 people March 31, 2003 and the court had taken its cognisance April 30 that year.
Of the 44 accused, six have died, two have turned approver, while two others are still evading arrest. In total, 34 people are facing trial in the scam.