Lalu Prasad sentenced to 3.5 years in jail in fodder scam

File photo of RJD chief Lalu Prasad. Photograph:( ANI )

WION Web Team Ranchi, Jharkhand, India Jan 06, 2018, 10.59 AM (IST)

Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav was on Saturday sentenced to three-and-a-half years in jail in a fodder scam case by a court in Ranchi.

The former Bihar chief minister was also asked to pay a fine of Rs 5 lakh by the court.

Others convicted in the case, Phool Chand, Mahesh Prasad, Bake Julious, Sunil Kumar, Sushil Kumar, Sudhir Kumar and Raja Ram sentenced to three-and-a-half years in jail and Rs 5 lakh fine each.

None of the convicts in the fodder scam case can take bail from the Ranchi Court. They will have to move the high court, ANI reported.

The quantum of punishment was pronounced through video-conferencing to Lalu who is currently lodged in Ranchi's Birsa Munda central jail. Also Read - 'Will go to High Court and apply for bail,' says Tejashwi Yadav on Lalu's verdict

Lalu tweeted soon after the verdict: 

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Lalu Prasad had, on Friday, sought a minimum punishment citing health issues. In his plea, Lalu mentioned, "I have no role in this scam directly; consider minimum punishment keeping in view my age and on health grounds."

Special CBI judge Shivpal Singh had on Tuesday observed he got phone calls from Lalu Prasad Yadav's men, in connection with his conviction.

The judge added, "Laluji, we are getting a lot of references and calls for you, but I told your men that I will take the decision the way I want to, following the law."

The RJD chief, along with 14 others, was found guilty by the court on December 23, while seven accused, including former Bihar Chief Minister Jagannath Mishra, were acquitted.

The case relates to the alleged fraudulent withdrawal of more than Rs 89 lakh from the Deoghar treasury between 1991 and 1994 when Lalu was chief minister of Bihar. The CBI has accused Lalu of being aware of the scam and keeping the file of inquiry against the accused pending for 16 months.

There were 34 accused in the case, out of which 11 died during the course of the trial and one turned CBI approver and admitted the crime.

Overall, in the fodder scam cases, more than Rs 900 crores was reportedly syphoned off from the state exchequer over a period of two decades under the pretext of medicines and fodder for cattle.

Lalu Prasad was convicted and sentenced to five years of imprisonment in one of the five fodder scam cases against him. The former Bihar chief minister faces four other fodder scam cases.

The scam came to light in 1996. The CBI filed chargesheets against Prasad and 55 other co-accused in 1997.

The RJD chief had been convicted in one of the fodder scam cases in 2013 on charges of embezzling Rs 37 crores. He was disqualified from the Lok Sabha and from contesting elections after that verdict.

The case against Lalu was revived after the Supreme Court in May ruled that the RJD leader will stand separate trial in all four fodder scam cases, setting aside the Jharkhand High Court order which had dropped the charges of criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust and prevention of corruption against him on the grounds that a person convicted in one case could not be tried in similar cases.