Lalu Prasad jailed for five years
Story Dated: Thursday, October 03, 2013 09:35 hrs EDT
Former Bihar chief minister and RJD president Lalu Prasad was finally sentenced for five years with fine of Rs 25 lakh in case no. RC20A/96 of the Rs 950 crore fodder scam by CBI special Judge PK Singh on Thursday.
He is one among the 37 people accused in the same case.
Another former Bihar chief minister Jagannath Mishra has been sentenced for four years with fine of Rs 2 lakh whereas JD (U) sitting MP Jagdish Prasad has been sentenced for four years with fine of Rs 5 lakh. Former MLA, RK Rana, has been slapped with the maximum fine of Rs 30 lakh and imprisonment of five years.
Four IAS officers and 25 suppliers who were accused by the CBI in the same case have been awarded imprisonment of four years each.
Hearing arguments of counsel of the accused and CBI in the first half, court of special CBI judge pronounced the final verdict at 2.30pm which sent shock waves across the political fraternity.
Lalu, who was convicted in the case on Monday along with 44 others, including former chief minister Jagannath Mishra is currently lodged in Birsa Munda Central Jail here.
The 65-year-old leader has lost his Lok Sabha seat and stands disqualified as an MP and is also barred from contesting election for six years following the sentencing thanks to a Supreme Court order.
During the argument in the court earlier today, Lalu's counsel pleaded a lenient sentence underlining that the former CM was a senior and law abiding citizen. Lalu's lawyer also argued he was too old and suffered from many diseases. On the other hand, CBI demanded maximum punishment 'which would act as deterrent in similar cases.'
The 17-year-old case involves fraudulent withdrawal to the tune of Rs 37.7 crore from Chaibasa treasury in the 1990s.
There were a total of 56 accused in the case. But during the trial, seven accused died, two turned approvers, one admitted to the crime and one was discharged.
Judge PK Singh had earlier fixed July 15 as the date for verdict, and had asked the remaining 45 accused to be present in the court.
Lalu Prasad moved the Jharkhand high court and later the Supreme Court, seeking change of the judge in the case. Both the courts dismissed his petition, and directed him to complete argument in the case before the CBI special court.
Lalu Prasad quit the chief minister's post in 1997 when his name figured in the CBI investigations in the scam, which surfaced in 1996.
Around 54 of the 61 cases were transferred to Jharkhand, after it was created as a separate state from Bihar in November 2000. Different CBI courts have passed judgements in more than 43 cases. Former CMs Lalu Prasad and Jagannath Mishra are accused in five cases.
Key politicians in the case apart from Lalu and Mishra are former AHD minister, Vidya Sagar Nishad, Chandradeo Prasad Verma, former JDU MP, Jagdish Sharma, former RJD MP, RK Rana and former BJP MLA Dhruv Bhagat, while bureaucrats convicted in the case are Phulchand Singh, Mahesh Prasad, Beck Julius and K Arumugham.
'How have I been punished?' (IANS report from Ranchi)
"When I have not done any crime, how have I been punished?" This was Lalu Prasad's instant reaction when a CBI court jailed him for five years for his involvement in the fodder scam.
An upset Lalu Prasad asked the question at the Birsa Munda Central Jail here over video conferencing facility after he heard the special CBI court sentencing him with a Rs 25 lakh fine.
Judge Pravas Kumar Singh retorted: "You can appeal in the higher court."
Lalu Prasad's lawyer Chitranjan Prasad met the RJD leader, who will now lose membership of the Lok Sabha, in the jail after the judgment and later said: "We will appeal in the high court on Oct 17."