The Fodder Scam of Bihar

The Fodder Scam, also known as the Chara Ghotala, was a corruption scandal that occurred in the Indian state of Bihar in the mid-1990s.

The scandal involved the embezzlement of about Rs. 950 crore (equivalent to about US$210 million at the time) from the government treasury of the animal husbandry department.

A number of politicians and government officials were implicated in the scam, including former Chief Minister of Bihar Lalu Prasad Yadav.

He was later convicted and sentenced to five years in jail in 2013.

The scandal came to light in 1996 when an official audit revealed financial irregularities in the Bihar government’s animal husbandry department.

The audit showed that fictitious bills were being submitted for the supply of fodder and medicines to non-existent institutions, and the money was being siphoned off into the accounts of people connected to the animal husbandry department.

The scam exposed major loopholes in the government’s financial and administrative systems, which had allowed such a large-scale fraud to take place.

The Bihar government was forced to institute a number of reforms in order to prevent such scams in the future.

The state also set up a number of special courts to try those accused of involvement in the scam.

The Fodder Scam had a major political fallout in Bihar, with the ruling party being voted out in the subsequent elections.

It also had a major impact on the reputation of the state government, which had been marred by the scandal.

Although the scam has largely been forgotten in recent years, it remains one of the most notorious examples of government corruption in India.

How the Scam Came to Light

Shashi Sharma, the then Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, notices irregularites in the state exchequer in 1996.

The scam was exposed as a result of the investigation conducted by the CAG.

The Fodder Scam was first writen about in 1996 by journalist Rakesh Bharti, who wrote a series of articles on the subject in the Hindi magazine, Danik Jagran.

The Indian Express and The Telegraph were the first newspapers to report on the Fodder Scam in India.

Other newspapers that reported on the scam include The Hindu, The Times of India, Hindustan Times and The Economic Times.

The Prime Accused

The biggest names in the fodder scam were former Bihar Chief Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav and former Bihar Chief Minister Jagannath Mishra.

Other prominent names include –

  1. R.K. Rana, former Bihar Animal Husbandry Minister
  2. Sajal Chakraborty, former Secretary of the Animal Husbandry Department of Bihar;
  3. Jagdish Sharma, former Bihar Finance Minister.

Modus Operandi of the Scam

The modus operandi of the scam was simple.

The state government officials, in collusion with private suppliers, created fake companies and fraudulent vouchers to siphon off money from the state treasury.

They would over-invoice for the supplies, and the excess amount was diverted to the companies owned by these officials.

The money was then used for personal gains of these persons.

The scam was detected after a Vigilance Bureau officer stumbled upon documents showing the irregularities.

Subsequent investigations revealed the widespread corruption.

Supreme Court Actions

The Supreme Court of India has been involved in the case since the beginning.

In 1997, the court was asked to hear a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by advocate Shanti Bhushan.

The PIL sought to investigate the scam, and to bring to justice the perpetrators of the fraud.

The court accepted the PIL, and has since been overseeing the investigations into the case.

In April 2018, the Supreme Court convicted Lalu Prasad Yadav in one of the Fodder Scam cases, and sentenced him to three-and-a-half years in prison.

In December 2019, Lalu Prasad Yadav was convicted in a second Fodder Scam case again!

The Supreme Court has also ordered the confiscation of properties and assets of those involved in the scam, and has imposed hefty fines on those convicted.

It has also ordered the Bihar government to take measures to recover the money lost in the fraud.

The court’s orders have been largely implemented, although some of the accused involved in the scam remain at large.

Political Impact of the Scam

The Fodder Scam has had far-reaching consequences in Indian politics.

It led to a strong anti-govt. sentiment in Bihar.

This sentiment played a major role in the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) victory in the state in the 1996 general elections.

The scandal also led to the downfall of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the emergence of a new regional party, the Janata Dal (United), in Bihar.

The scandal has resulted in a major loss of public confidence in the political leadership of the country.

It has exposed the rampant corruption and cronyism that exists in Indian politics.

The alleged involvement of senior politicians in the scam has tarnished the image of Indian politics and highlighted the need for greater transparency and accountability in public life.

The Fodder Scam has also highlighted the urgent need for greater financial management and control in the government.