Land-For-Jobs Scam: CBI Questions Lalu Yadav And Family; Turmoil In Bihar Politics Imminent?

Land-For-Jobs Scam: CBI Questions Lalu Yadav And Family; Turmoil In Bihar Politics Imminent?

by Jaideep Mazumdar - Mar 7, 2023 01:59 PM +05:30 IST
Land-For-Jobs Scam: CBI Questions Lalu Yadav And Family; Turmoil In Bihar Politics Imminent?CBI enquiry against Lalu Prasad Yadav in connection with Land-For-Jobs Scam.
  • CBI officers told Swarajya that what has been uncovered so far is just the tip of the iceberg.

Bad times are most likely to revisit Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) supremo Lalu Yadav, his wife and former Bihar chief minister Rabri Devi and their two daughters for their involvement in the land-for-jobs scam.

The senior Yadav, who is recuperating at the residence of his elder daughter Misa Bharti at New Delhi’s Pandara Park after his kidney transplant in Singapore, is currently being questioned by CBI sleuths. 

A team of CBI officers reached the residence of Misa Bharti, who is a Rajya Sabha MP and a co-accused in the scam, late this Tuesday (7 March) morning. 

The four, along with a dozen others, have been chargesheeted by the CBI for their involvement in a land-for-jobs scam dating back to a six year period between 2004 and 2009 when Lalu Yadav was the Railway Minister in the UPA-1 regime. 

A four-member CBI team questioned Rabri Devi at her 10, Circular Road residence in Patna for over five hours Monday (6 March). Misa Bharti and her sibling Hema Yadav will also be questioned by the CBI over the next few days. 

The CBI, which launched a preliminary enquiry into the scam in September 2021 and then registered an FIR on 18 May last year, has already submitted the chargesheet naming Lalu Yadav, his wife and two daughters and twelve others before a Delhi court in October last year. 

Top CBI officers who have been monitoring the case told Swarajya that the current round of questioning is “part of further investigation to ascertain the money trail and larger conspiracy”. 

Delhi court has issued summons to the 16 accused to appear before it on 15 March and had asked the CBI to record the statements of all the accused by then. 

The CBI, in the course of its months-long investigations, searched 25 places, including the properties of Lalu Yadav and Misa Bharti in Delhi, Patna, Gopalganj, Katihar and Gurugram and have seized land deeds and other incriminating documents. 

Apart from Lalu and his family, the other accused include former general manager of Indian Railways’ central zone, Soumya Raghavan, former chief personnel officer of Indian Railways Kamal Deep, seven people illegally appointed to the railways and four others who facilitated the scam. 

This is the Land-For-Jobs Scam:

  • A total of 1,458 people, mostly residents of Patna, were appointed as Group D ‘substitutes’ in various zones of the Indian Railways when Lalu Yadav was the Railway Minister;

  • ‘Substitutes’ are appointed when a post falls vacant and needs to be filled up immediately because of ‘exigencies of the job’. The ‘substitutes’ draw same pay and allowances as regular employees;

  • The railway authorities did not advertise the vacant posts and invite applications from candidates, nor were the appointments notified publicly as is required;

  • The candidates were appointed after they or their families ‘sold’ land parcels, mostly in Patna, to Lalu Yadav, Rabri Devi and their two daughters at rates much below market prices;

  • Some land parcels were even ‘gifted’ to the Yadavs, and all the transactions were carried out in cash in violation of norms; 

  • The people appointed as Group D ‘substitutes’ did not join their posts immediately, thus negating the grounds for their emergency appointment; all these appointments were subsequently regularised.

What the CBI has unearthed

  • The CBI raided 25 different premises in Delhi, Gurugram, Patna, Gopalganj and Katihar, including the premises of the Yadavs and residences of RJD leaders Ashfaq Karim, Faiyaz Ahmed, Sunil Singh and Subodh Rai;

  • The CBI recovered 200 land sale deeds from the residences and business establishments that it has searched;

  • A total of 105,292 square feet of land and some other immovable properties were gifted to the Yadavs through five sale deeds and two gift deeds;

  • Of the 1,458 illegal appointments, the CBI unearthed incriminating evidence in seven of the first lot it has investigated so far;

  • Investigations into the other appointments are continuing and will take some more time to complete, but the CBI decided to submit the chargesheet in the first seven cases in order to secure early convictions of the accused. 

The seven cases that implicate the Yadavs

  • On 6 February 2008, Patna resident Kishun Deo Rai transferred his 3,375 square feet of land in Rabri Devi's name for Rs 3.75 lakh.
    In the same year, three members of his family — Raj Kumar Singh, Mithilesh Kumar and Ajay Kumar — were appointed as substitutes in Group D posts in Central Railway, Mumbai.

  • In February 2008, Patna resident Sanjay Rai sold a 3,375 square feet plot of land that he owned to Rabri Devi for a measly Rs 3.75 lakh.
    Rai and two of his family members were given jobs in the Railways soon after that.

  • Kiran Devi, a resident of Patna, sold 80,905 square feet of land in November 2007 to Lalu Yadav’s daughter Misa Bharti for Rs 3.70 lakh.
    Her son Abhishek Kumar was appointed to the Central Railways as a Group D substitute later that year.

  • Another resident of Patna, Hazari Rai, sold 9,527 square feet of land in February 2007 to AK Infosystem Private Limited, a Delhi-based company, for Rs 10.83 lakh.
    Later, two nephews of Hazari Rai — Dilchand Kumar and Prem Chand Kumar — were appointed as substitutes in the West Central Railway, Jabalpur, and South Eastern Railway, Kolkata.
    CBI found that all rights and assets of AK Infosystem were transferred to the daughter and wife of Lalu Prasad Yadav in the year 2014.
    Rabri Devi purchased the majority of shares of the company in 2014 and subsequently became Director of the company.

  • In May 2005, Patna resident Lal Babu Rai transferred 1,360 square feet of land he owned to Rabri Devi for a sale consideration of Rs 13 lakh.
    His son, Lal Chand Kumar, was appointed as a substitute in the year 2006 in North Western Railway, Jaipur.

  • In March 2008, Brij Nandan Rai, sold his 3,375 square feet of land to a Gopalganj resident, Hridyanand Choudhary, for Rs 4.21 lakh. Choudhary was appointed as a substitute in the East Central Railway, Hajipur. Later, Choudhary, through a gift deed, transferred this land to Lalu’s daughter Hema in 2014.
    Choudhary was not related to the Yadavs and the value of the land he transferred to Hema was Rs 62 lakh as per the rates prevailing at that time.

  • In March 2008, Vishun Dev Rai transferred his 3,375 square feet of land to a Siwan resident, Lalan Choudhary.
    Later, Lalan’s grandson Pintu Kumar was appointed as a substitute in the year 2008 at Western Railway, Mumbai. Subsequently, Lalan Choudhary transferred the parcel of land to Hema in February 2014.

CBI officers told Swarajya that what has been uncovered so far is just the tip of the iceberg. The accused, they say, benefited hugely from the illegal appointments. “The evidence we have submitted in the chargesheet is irrefutable and solid. We are sure that the accused will be convicted,” said a top CBI officer. 

Jaideep Mazumdar is an associate editor at Swarajya.

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