Lalu Prasad found guilty in fodder scam case, taken into custody

Lalu Prasad Yadav outside Ranchi's Special CBI Court after being convicted in a fodder scam case on December 23. He was accompanied by son Tejashwi. Photograph:( ANI )

WION Web Team Ranchi, Jharkhand, India Dec 23, 2017, 10.08 AM (IST)

Former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav was on Saturday convicted by a special CBI court in the 1996 fodder scam case along with 14 others co-accused in the case. Lalu Prasad Yadav was taken into custody immediately after the verdict and sent to a jail in Ranchi.

Former Bihar chief minister Jagannath Mishra, who was also a co-accused, has been acquitted along with seven others. 

The quantum of sentence for the guilty will be pronounced on January 3.

After the verdict, Lalu Prasad tweeted that "truth had been made to appear as a lie."

 "Truth can be made to appear as a lie, as ambiguous or a half lie by concerted onslaught of bias driven propaganda. But blurred layer of bias and hatred will still be removed, come what may! In end Truth will win," the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD)  chief wrote on Twitter.

 "A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes. ....But still prevails...In the end though," he added.

His son Tejashwi said the verdict was a conspiracy by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to defame Lalu Prasad. He said they would challenge the verdict in the high court.

 "We will challenge the verdict in the High Court. The process of bail will take place once the High Court is opened. Today's conviction shows a conspiracy by the BJP and Nitish Kumar to defame Lalu Prasad and put him behind bars. This is not the final judgment as we still have High Court and Supreme Court and the final verdict will be given by the Apex Court," Tejashwi Yadav said.

Heavy security was deployed outside the court in Ranchi ahead of the verdict.

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The case relates to the alleged fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 95 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.

The RJD chief has alleged that he is innocent and that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) governments since the time of Atal Bihari Vajpayee have been harassing him and his family by misusing the CBI for the past 25 years.

"We trust and respect the judiciary and won't let BJP's conspiracies work. What happened in the 2G case, with Ashok Chavan in Adarsh case, I hope I'll also get to see the same thing (Jaisa 2G mein hua, Ashok Chavan ka hua vaisa hi humara bhi hoga," Lalu said on Friday after his arrival in Ranchi ahead of the verdict.

(WIth inputs from agencies)