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Bihar’s veteran politician Lalu Yadav, who was convicted in a second case of fodder scam — involving the embezzlement of more than Rs. 84.5 lakh in government funds — was given three-and-a-half-year’s jail term and a fine of Rs. 5 lakh by a special court in Bihar today. Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad on Saturday was sentenced to three-and-a-half years jail in a fodder scam case by the Special CBI court in Ranchi in the very week that Parliament grappled with the Muslim Women Protection of Rights on Marriage Bill or the triple talaq bill in popular parlance. The two matters would seem unrelated but are in fact deeply interconnected. The court also slapped a Rs. 5 lakh fine on Mr. Prasad.
It is unclear whether the 69-year-old will be able to walk out of jail in the near future. In Patna, Mr Yadav’s son Tejashwi Yadav, who held an emergency strategy meet with the leaders of his Rashtriya Janata Dal, said, “The judiciary has performed its duty. We will go to the High Court after studying the sentence and apply for a bail”. The former Chief Minister, who is in Ranchi’s Birsa Munda Jail, received his sentence through video-conference.
“The court has awarded three-and-a-half years jail to Lalu Prasad and Rs. 5 lakh fine to him. If he fails to deposit the penalty money, it will amount to six more months of imprisonment to him,” Prabhat Kumar, counsel for Lalu Prasad told media persons.
“Now we’ll move Ranchi high court for bail on Monday,” added Mr. Kumar. The CBI judge pronounced the quantum of sentence to all 16 convicts in the fodder scam case through video conference.
The court sentenced all 16 convicts in the case, from seven years to three-and-a-half years. The case pertained to fraudulent withdrawal of Rs. 84.5 lakh from the Deoghar district (now in Jharkhand) treasury during the period 1991-94.
In Patna, the RJD held a meeting of party leaders at 10, Circular road residence of Rabri Devi in which party leaders imposed faith in party chief Lalu Prasad.
BJP colludes to play dirty politics of creating negative perception about RJD chief: Tejaswi
RJD leader and son of Lalu Prasad Yadav, Tejashwi Yadav today claimed that BJP would have given his father title of ‘Raja Harischandra’ had he aligned himself with the party. He also accused Bihar CM Nitish Kumar of being insecure of Lalu and colluding with BJP to play dirty politics of creating negative perception about Lalu.
“If Lalu ji had done compromise with BJP, he would be the most truthful person for them like Raja Harishchandra. It is clear that the BJP-RSS combine is scared of Lalu even while he is in jail and is doing all that it can to silence Lalu’s voice,” said Tejashwi, while addressing a press conference.
RJD chief Lalu Prasad was today sentenced to 3.5 years of imprisonment by a special CBI court in the second fodder scam case in which he was found guilty.
Tejashwi, who was the former deputy CM of Bihar, said that he along with Lalu’s lawyers will go to High Court and even Supreme Court to appeal against the sentencing.
“We have full faith in judiciary. It is a conspiracy to break RJD by RSS in which Lalu ji was made a scapegoat. But they should remember that we still have High Court and Supreme Court to appeal against the judgement by CBI court,” said Tejashwi.
“Come what may Lalu will never get scared, nor will he even kneel down. In fact, he will always stick to his ideology,” added Tejashwi.
Tejashwi accused NDA government of hatching a plot against Lalu for he was the only force that was uniting opposition ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
“The recent Gujarat elections have proved that only Lalu can challenge NDA and RSS in this country,” Tejashwi claimed.
Lalu’s younger son Tej Pratap too expressed confidence in judiciary and said Lalu would easily get bail, reported ANI. He assured that his family was not going to get bogged down by the judgment.
“The BJP, RSS and Nitish Kumar had got threatened with Lalu Prasad’s effort for opposition’s unity against BJP and Narendra Modi after the party had organized BJP bhagao, Desh bachao rally in Patna, so they conspired to send him to jail…but we’ll not be cowed down with Lalu Prasad in jail but will come out more stronger,” said Tejaswi Yadav.
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Lalu Yadav’s lawyers had argued for the shortest jail term – 3 years – in view of his health. A three-year sentence would have immediately made him eligible for bail.
Lalu Yadav has said his conviction is the result of political vendetta. After the sentencing, Lalu Yadav tweeted: “Rather than practising BJP’s Simple Rule – “Follow us or We will Fix you”. I will die happily fixing myself for Social justice, harmony & equality.”
Lalu Yadav was convicted on December 23 for criminal conspiracy, forgery, use of forged documents and under the Prevention of Corruption Act, sources said. This case relates to the fraudulent withdrawal of Rs. 84.5 lakh from the Deoghar district treasury between 1990 and 1994.
Tejashwi Yadav said, “He was chosen (by the people) and he’s in jail… those who had not been elected is now in government… Amit Shah was scared of Lalu-ji.” The former Deputy Chief Minister is in the opposition after Nitish Kumar dissolved his alliance with Lalu Yadav and the Congress and partnered with the BJP.
Senior BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain said, “Bihar’s people have finally got justice”.”The law is the same for everyone… a message has been sent that nobody is bigger than law,” he said.
The sentencing, which was expected last week, had been deferred twice. On Wednesday, the judge said they would proceed with the arguments on the sentencing in an alphabetical order.
The fodder scam involved the embezzlement of more than Rs. 970 crore in government funds during Lalu Yadav’s term as the Chief Minister of undivided Bihar from 1990 to 1997.
Lalu Yadav has now been convicted in two of the five cases of fodder scam. Four years ago, he was convicted in the first case and was given a five-year jail term. After being in jail for two months, he got bail from the Supreme Court.
With ally Hemant Soren as Chief Minister of Jharkhand, Lalu Yadav was given VIP treatment during his last stint in jail – a converted guesthouse, where even the Chief Minister came to meet him.
The state has a BJP government now with Raghubar Das as chief minister. During the last hearing, Lalu Yadav had confessed to the judge that it was a little too cold in jail. To this, the judge, in a jocular vein, had asked him to “play the tabla”. He also said he had received calls from Mr Yadav’s “well-wishers”.
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