The Jharkhand high court on Friday deferred till November 27 Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad's bail plea hearing in a fodder scam case related to Dumka treasury, after the Central Bureau of Investigation sought more time to file a written reply in the matter.
The former Bihar CM, convicted in four fodder scam cases, would be able to walk out of the jail if he acquires bail in the case.
He has already secured bail in three other cases.
Prasad's family and party supporters were expecting his release on Friday but now they have to wait for more time.
The RJD president is in jail in Ranchi since 2018 December.
Prasad's lawyer Kapil Sibal, who attended the court session virtually, said the ailing RJD chief, currently undergoing treatment at Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences in Ranchi, has served more than half the sentence that was awarded to him in the case and urged the court to release him on bail.
Sibal told the court that out of total seven years of jail term in the instant case, Prasad has already spent 42 months and 26 days in judicial custody, more than half of the total sentence time.
The hearing in the case was held virtually in view of the Covid pandemic.
The CBI objected to Sibal's assertion and said that it would take some time to file a written reply on Prasad's health condition and his incarceration in this case.
Sibal, however, claimed that the probe agency was "deliberately" delaying the matter.
Justice Aparesh Kumar Singh, after taking all arguments into consideration, postponed the hearing in the case till November 27.
The case pertains to fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 3.13 crore from Dumka treasury when Prasad was the chief minister of undivided Bihar.
The court, which had sought details about the treatment of Prasad and also those meeting him in RIMS, will also take it up on the next hearing.
Earlier, on October 9, the high court had granted bail to the RJD president in the case related to alleged illegal withdrawal of money from the Chaibasa treasury, an offshoot of the Rs 900 crore fodder scam case, on the same ground of spending more than half the duration of the jail term.
The Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) has submitted its report to the court on Prasad's treatment and also the report from the jail department and the district administration on people meeting him there.
The court will take a view on them along with the bail application at the next hearing.
Political rivals had alleged that the jailed RJD supremo was meeting party leaders and others in violation of jail rules during the Bihar polls while staying in RIMS director's bungalow.