Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad Yadav was on Saturday sentenced to three-and-a-half years in jail and fined Rs 10 lakh by a special Central Bureau of Investigation court in a fodder scam case relating to fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 89.27 lakh from the Deoghar Treasury 21 years ago.
The punishment was handed down to 69-year-old Lalu by CBI court judge Shiv Pal Singh through videoconferencing since the RJD leader is lodged in Birsa Munda Central Jail after being convicted in the case on December 23, CBI counsel Rakesh Prasad said.
This is the second time that he has been jailed in the fodder scam.
Lalu faces another three scam cases for illegal withdrawal of Rs 3.97 crore from the Dumka Treasury, Rs 36 crore from the Chaibasa Treasury and Rs 184 crore from the Doranda Treasury.
The special judge also sent 15 other convicts in the case to prison for terms varying between three and six months and seven years under sections of Indian Penal Code and the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The CBI lawyer said a fine totalling Rs 10 lakh was imposed the RJD supremo.
Lalu was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison for offences of cheating, read with criminal conspiracy, using as genuine a forged document and other sections under the IPC
He was also given a jail term of three years and six months in the case under the PCA.
The counsel said failure to pay a fine of Rs 5 lakh each under the IPC and the PCA would entail another six months in jail for the RJD leader.
The sentences will run concurrently, he said.
Lalu's counsel Chittaranjan Sinha said his client would filed an appeal next week against the verdict in the Jharkhand high court.
Reacting to the verdict, the BJP and its ally Janata Dal-United said no one was above the law while the RJD claimed its leader fell prey to a ‘conspiracy’ by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and the saffron party.
Bharatiya Janata Party leader Shahnawaz Hussain asserted the verdict shows the law was equal for all.
JD-U general secretary K C Tyagi said a new political chapter has begun with the court’s decision and it means politicians will be afraid of committing any such wrongdoing.
Lalu's son and RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav said in Patna a bail plea will also be moved in the high court.
The court had on Friday concluded arguments on the quantum of sentence against Lalu in connection with the withdrawal of Rs 89.27 lakh from the Deoghar Treasury between 1990 and 1994 when he was the chief minister of Bihar.
Lalu was given a prison term of five years on September 30, 2013, in another fodder scam case.
He was released on bail by the Supreme Court after having remained in jail for over two-and-a-half months.
The CBI special judge had on December 23 acquitted former Bihar chief minister Jagannath Mishra and five others in the case.
In Saturday’s order, former chairman of the Public Accounts Committee Jagdish Sharma was sentenced to a prison term of seven years and fined Rs 20 lakh while RJD leader R K Rana was jailed for three and six months and fined Rs 10 lakh.
Three former IAS officers -- Beck Julius, Phoolchand Singh and Mahesh Prasad -- were given a prison term of three and-a-half years each. A fine of Rs five lakh was also imposed on each of them.
Ex-government official Krishna Kumar was handed down a seven-year prison term and a fine of Rs 20 lakh while another former government official Subir Bhattacharya was jailed for three years and six months besides a penalty of Rs 10 lakh.
Transporters/suppliers Tripurari Mohan Prasad got seven years imprisonment and Rs 10 lakh fine while Sushil Kumar Sinha was given three-and-a half years in jail and a fine of Rs 5 lakh.
The other transporters/suppliers punished were Sunil Kumar Sinha (three-and-a-half years in prison and Rs 5 lakh fine), Raja Ram Joshi (three-and-a-half years jail and Rs 5 lakh penalty), Gopinath Das (seven years jail and Rs 10 lakh fine), Sanjay Agarwal (seven years jail and Rs 10 lakh fine), Jyoti Kumar Jha (seven years jail and Rs 10 lakh fine) and Sunil Gandhi (seven years jail and Rs 10 lakh fine).
The court had also heard arguments on the issue of punishment for 10 others convicted in the case.
Earlier on Saturday, the court concluded arguments on the quantum of sentence against five other convicts.
In 1996, the Patna high court had ordered an inquiry into the fodder scam cases and a charge sheet in the Deogarh Treasury case was filed against 38 people on October 27, 1997.
Eleven of them died and three turned approvers, while two other accused confessed and were convicted in 2006-07, a CBI official said.
On September 30, 2013, Lalu, Jagannath Mishra and several others were convicted in another case pertaining to illegal withdrawal of Rs 37.7 crore from the Chaibasa Treasury in the early 1990s.
IMAGE: RJD chief Lalu Yadav escorted by police officials after appearing at the special CBI court in Ranchi on Wednesday. Photograph: PTI Photo