In more trouble for Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad, a special Central Bureau of Investigation court in Ranchi on Wednesday sentenced him to five years in jail in a third case related to the multi-crore fodder scam.
Prasad and another former Bihar chief minister Jagannath Mishra were sentenced to five years rigorous imprisonment by the court of S S Prasad in the case related to fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 37.62 crore from Chaibasa treasury in the early 1990s.
The court also imposed Rs 10 lakh fine on him and Mishra on two counts of Rs 5 lakh each.
The RJD chief is already lodged in Birsa Munda jail in Ranchi since December 23 last year in connection with the second case of fodder scam related to illegal withdrawal of Rs 89.27 lakh from Deogarh treasury.
Prasad was present in court when the sentence was pronounced on Wednesday. With this judgment, Prasad has been convicted in three cases of the over Rs 900 crore fodder scam in the animal husbandry department of undivided Bihar when the RJD was in power.
Two other cases pertaining to fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 3.97 crore from the Dumka Treasury and Rs 184 crore from the Doranda treasury are lined up against Prasad and others.
The Ranchi court sentenced Prasad under 120B, r/w section 409, 420, 467, 468, 471 and 477A of IPC for five years RI and imposed fine of Rs 5 lakh in connection with the case of fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 37.62 crore from Chaibasa treasury in early 1990s.
He was also found guilty under section 13 (2) of Prevention of Corruption Act and imprisoned for five years and fined Rs 5 lakh. The court said the five-year prison terms would run concurrently.
On default of payment, both Mishra and Prasad will have to serve another one year term of simple imprisonment.
The court also meted out the same sentence to Bihar assembly’s former public advisory committee chairman Jagdish Sharma and former Bihar MLA R K Rana.
Former Bihar minister Vidya Sagar Nishad and another former Bihar MLA Dhruv Bhagat got three years sentence and Rs 1.5 like fine. On default of payment of the fine, both would serve another simple imprisonment term of six months.
The CBI court sentenced three former IAS officers -- Phool Chand Singh, Mahesh Prasad and Sajal Chakraborty -- to four years imprisonment and Rs 2 lakh fine. On default of payment of the fine, they will undergo three-month simple imprisonment.
The court acquitted two AHD officials Ram Prakash Ram and Dr Mukhesh Kumar Srivastav and four accused of fodder suppliers -- Ramatar Sharma, Bimla Sharma, Seema Kumar and Sudeo Rana.
The rest of the former AHD officials and fodder suppliers got varying prison terms and amounts of penalty.
In this case, there were 76 accused. While 14 died, two accused persons convicted on confession and three accused became approvers. One is still absconding.
Earlier, on September 30, 2013, Prasad and Mishra were convicted in one of the cases and were sentenced five and four years prison terms respectively for fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 37.7 crore from the Chaibasa treasury.
On December 23, 2017, Prasad was given 3.5 years prison term in another case pertaining to illegal withdrawal of Rs 89.27 lakh from Deoghar Treasury.
After the Ranchi court judgment came in the third case of fodder scam, Prasad’s son and leader of opposition in Bihar assembly Tejaswi Yadav reacted “the CBI court order is not going to be final. We will appeal in the high court and, if need be, in the Supreme Court”.
He accused Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and the Bharatiya Janata Party of framing his father who was viewed as a “hero” by masses.
Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi took strong objection to the RJD’s allegation that Prasad had been “framed” in fodder scam cases at the instance of the ruling Janatal Dal-United-BJP combine in the state, saying this was tantamount to raising fingers at the judiciary.
The senior BJP leader, who was one of the petitioners on whose PIL the Patna high court had ordered a CBI inquiry into the scam in 1996, also stressed that while the RJD was free to challenge Prasad’s conviction in higher courts, the appeal would be decided on the basis of the same evidence which the CBI court had relied upon in holding him guilty.
JD-U spokesman and MLC Sanjay Singh also attacked Tejashwi Yadav saying, “he calls Lalu a hero despite the fact that his father has been convicted in a corruption case. This shows the low level of politics practised by the RJD”.
Image: Former Bihar CM Lalu Prasad Yadav being taken to the Special CBI Court from Birsa Munda Jail, in Ranchi. Photograph: PTI Photo