A bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam, which had on July 9 ordered an interim stay on the passing of judgment in the case and issued notice to the CBI, reserved the order.

The RJD chief's plea faced stiff opposition from senior advocate Shanti Bhushan, appearing for JD-U leader Rajiv Ranjan, who argued that it would be a "travesty of justice" if the judge is transferred.

“The whole country is watching and it would send a wrong impression that criminal cases involving important politicians will go on and on. The transfer of judge would shake the faith of people in judicial system,” Bhushan said.

The CBI, which is the prosecuting agency in the fodder scam, objected intervention of Ranjan in the case, saying that he is a politician and the political battle cannot be allowed in the court. Senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, appearing for the RJD chief, also objected to Ranjan's plea saying that the intervention by third party in a criminal case should not be allowed.

The bench, after hearing all the parties, reserved its order and also queried from the CBI and Lalu Prasad's counsel on how long will it take for completion of trial if the judge is transferred at this stage. Solicitor General Mohan Prasaran replied that CBI will take 30-40 days to complete its proceedings and Jethmalani said that the defence proceedings will take around 10 days.

The bench was hearing a petition filed by Lalu Prasad alleging that the trial court judge PK Singh is biased against him as he is a relative of PK Shahi, Education Minister in the Nitish Kumar government.

The Apex Court had earlier restrained the special CBI court in Jharkhand from pronouncing its verdict on July 15. Lalu approached the Apex Court after the Jharkhand High Court on July 1 dismissed his plea to transfer the case to another special CBI court.

(Agencies)

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