Fodder scam: Judge hints at bid by Lalu Prasad Yadav loyalists to influence case as sentencing deferred again

The judge also looked disturbed with the presence of too many people inside the courtroom and said the lawyers, who were not associated with the scam, should leave the courtroom.

Published: 04th January 2018 07:45 PM  |   Last Updated: 05th January 2018 08:22 AM   |  A+A-

RJD supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav being escorted by police officials after he was convicted by a special CBI court. (File photo | PTI)

Express News Service

PATNA: The pronouncement of sentence for convicted RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav in a fodder scam case by a CBI court in Ranchi was on Thursday deferred again by a day, but the judge’s statement that he had received several phone calls from people linked to the 69-year-old politician regarding his conviction and sentencing caused a flutter.

Yadav, who was brought to the special CBI court in Ranchi from Birsa Munda Central Jail amid tight security, was told by judge Shivpal Singh that he would decide on Friday whether to pronounce the quantum of punishment in the court or through video conferencing.

During an amicable exchange of words between Yadav and Singh lasting for about three minutes, Yadav told him that he was feeling very cold and that he was not being allowed to meet people in jail, according to sources. When the judge asked him if he would like the sentence to be delivered through videoconferencing in jail, Yadav politely declined and said he would like to be present in the courtroom.

“Laluji, we are getting a lot of references and calls for you. But I told your men that I would take the decision only as per the law,” said the judge to Yadav, according to sources.

With the courtroom filled chock-a-block with hundreds of Yadav’s supporters who came from across Bihar and Jharkhand, the judge appeared disturbed. At this point, Yadav reportedly asked him to keep his cool.

“I had no role in the scam. I am innocent,” said Yadav, a former CM of Bihar for two terms and former railway minister, to the judge. “You were CM at that time and also held the finance portfolio, and you did not take corrective steps quickly,” Singh retorted, asking Yadav to leave as the sentence would be pronounced on Friday.

Yadav then said: “I am also a lawyer, judgesahib”. To this, Singh snapped: “You can acquire some degrees in jail”.

Judge Singh had on December 23 convicted 16 people, including Yadav, in the fodder scam case pertaining to fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 90 lakh from Chaibasa treasury in undivided Bihar between 1994 and 1996.

Bihar’s ruling JD(U) slammed Yadav for asking the judge to keep his cool. “On the day of sentencing, asking the judge to keep his cool is tantamount to a bid to put psychological pressure on him. This is condemnable,” said JD(U) national general secretary KC Tyagi.

Before leaving for the court, Yadav chanted Durga Chalisa in jail, said sources. He was earlier convicted in another fodder scam case and sentenced to five years in jail in September 2013, but he came out on bail 87 days later.

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