Lalu jailed for 3.5 years in fodder scam

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A special CBI court on Saturday handed former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav a jail term of 3.5 years and imposed a fine of Rs 5 lakh in connection with a Rs 950 crore fodder scam case, the RJD supremo’s lawyer, Prabhat Kumar said. Kumar said they would seek bail for Lalu from Jharkhand High Court. Other convicts Phool Chand, Mahesh Prasad, Bake Julious, Sunil Kumar, Sushil Kumar, Sudhir Kumar and Raja Ram were also sentenced to 3.5 years in jail and a fine of Rs 5 lakh each was imposed. The hearing concluded on Saturday and all the 15 convicts, including the RJD supremo, appeared via video conferencing.

There are a total of six cases related to the scam, which are being probed by authorities. Saturday’s hearing on the quantum of sentence pertains to the fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 89.27 lakh from Deoghar Treasury when Lalu was the CM of Bihar between 1991 and 1994.

Lalu was convicted by the court on December 23, 2017, and has been lodged in Birsa Munda prison since then. The court had found his predecessor and former CM of Bihar Jagannath Mishra not guilty and acquitted him of all charges.

In the wake of the court’s ruling, senior members of the RJD are expected to meet today to discuss the party’s strategy and the “emerging political situation.” The meeting will be chaired by former Bihar CM and Lalu’s wife Rabri Devi. According to the party’s state president Ramchandra Purve, Tejashwi Yadav, Leader of Opposition and Lalu’s son, is likely to become the party’s CM face for the 2020 Assembly post. A controversy emerged during the hearing on Thursday after the CBI judge Shivpal Singh claimed that he had received phone calls from Lalu’s men – a charge dismissed by the RJD leaders.

In the mid-90s, the embezzlement of government treasury funds to non-existent companies for the purchase and supply of cattle fodder in Bihar was unearthed. It happened during the Lalu’s tenure as chief minister, forcing him to resign from the post.

In the first fodder scam case, Lalu was sentenced to five years in jail. Due to his conviction, he was debarred from contesting elections for 11 years.

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