Friday witnessed a Delhi court issuing summons to Bihar’s deputy chief minister, Tejaswi Yadav, age undisclosed, along with Lalu Prasad Yadav, former Union railway minister, Rabri Devi, former chief minister and 14 other individuals implicated in the alleged land-for-job scam. The order was passed by Special Judge Geetanjali Goel, following the cognisance of a freshly filed charge sheet by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on July 3rd.
The charge sheet, submitted by the CBI on the same date, named Lalu Prasad, Rashtriya Janata Dal supremo, Rabri Devi, Tejaswi Yadav, and 14 others in the land-for-job scam. On that day, the court had been informed of the necessity for sanctions to prosecute Lalu, and three railway officials – Maheep Kapur, Manoj Pande, and PL Bankar. The CBI revealed to the court on Thursday that sanctions to prosecute Kapur, Pande, and Bankar had been received earlier in the week. The agency had also noted that the sanction to prosecute Lalu was obtained from the Ministry of Home Affairs earlier this month.
No sanctions were needed to prosecute Tejaswi, named as an accused in the charge sheet, as he was not serving as a public servant during the period 2004-2009. The Delhi court has scheduled the hearing for October 4th, when all the accused are expected to appear before the court in response to the issued summons.
The alleged scam dates back to the time when the RJD chief held the position of Railway Minister in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government. The CBI alleges that from 2004 to 2009, several individuals were appointed to Group D positions in various zones of Indian Railways. These individuals then transferred their land to the family members of the then Railway Minister. The Yadav family has rejected these allegations, accusing the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led central government of misuse of central agencies.
The case under review by the court involves allegations by the CBI that the then Union Minister obtained pecuniary advantages in the form of property transfers to his family members. This was allegedly in exchange for the appointment of various individuals to Group D posts in different zones of Indian Railways, without any formal advertisement or public notice.
According to the CBI, residents of Patna were appointed as substitutes in different zonal railways at Mumbai, Jabalpur, Kolkata, Jaipur and Hajipur, without any public notice or advertisement. In return, the candidates, or their immediate family members, allegedly sold land to Prasad’s family members at highly discounted rates, up to a quarter or a fifth of the prevailing market rates.
The CBI registered a case on May 18, 2022, claiming that the property was purchased in exchange for jobs, under the name of a private company. It was later transferred under the ownership of the family members at a value significantly lower than the market value. The CBI’s charge sheet filed on July 3 pertains to appointments made in the West Central Zone of the Indian Railways, while the previous charge sheet filed on October 7, 2022, relates to appointments made in the central zone.
The court took cognisance of the first charge sheet filed on February 27, issuing summons to all the accused. Following this, bail was granted to all the accused by an order passed on March 15, given that the CBI had filed the charge sheet without any arrest.