PATNA: The pronouncement of sentence in the fodder scam case against RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav was deferred by a day once again on Thursday, making him spend yet another uneasy night in a jail near Ranchi in the company of seven co-prisoners, including four Jharkhand leaders facing murder charges.
Special CBI court judge Shivpal Singh, who convicted Yadav and 15 other accused in the Rs 1,000-crore scam’s Deoghar treasury case on December 23, conducted hearing on the sentences through video conferencing. Hearings for ten convicts could be completed on Thursday. The court is likely to pronounce the sentences on Saturday after completing the hearings for the six others, including Yadav.
Confirming the news, Lalu Prasad’s lawyer Chittaranjan Sinha, said, “The quantum of sentence will be announced at 2 pm, tomorrow, via video conferencing.”
Lawyers for the 69-year-old leader moved an application before the judge praying for minimum sentence for him, citing health grounds such as his diabetic condition and the fact that he had undergone a heart surgery three years ago. Yadav was earlier convicted in another fodder scam case in September 2013 and sentenced to five years in jail. He had come out of jail after 87 days when the Supreme Court granted him bail.
In the upper division ward of Birsa Munda Central Jail at Hotwar near Ranchi, where Yadav is lodged as prisoner No. 3351, he has two sitting MLAs and two former MLAs of Jharkhand facing murder charges as his neighbours. Two of Yadav’s co-convicts in the fodder scam – former Bihar MPs RK Rana of RJD and Jagdish Sharma of JD(U) – are also lodged in the ward.
The Jharkhand leaders in Yadav’s ward are Sawna Lakra, a former Congress MLA serving a life term for killing a college student; former minister Gopal Krishna Patar alias Raja Peter facing trial for plotting the murder of former JD(U) minister Ramesh Singh Munda at the hands of the Maoists; sitting BJP legislator Sanjeev Singh facing charges of plotting the murder of a former mayor of Dhanbad; and former minister Enos Ekka, facing trial for the murder of a para-teacher.
Former Jharkhand MLA Kamal Kishore Bhagat, convicted for a murderous attack he had led on a doctor, is also lodged in the same upper division ward.
During his appearance before the judge on Thursday, the RJD chief had told him of the inconveniences he was facing there. He had said it was very cold in jail and that transgender prisoners were proposing marriage to him whenever he passed by them.
‘No calls to judge from RJD’
RJD leaders on Friday said nobody from the party had made any calls to special CBI court judge Shivpal Singh regarding the conviction and imminent sentencing of party chief Lalu Prasad Yadav. “I can say with certainty no RJD leader would resort to such a step, as everyone knows such desperation can backfire. The possibility of our political rivals making such calls in the guise of RJD supporters cannot be ruled out,” said RJD national vice-president Shivanand Tiwary. The judge had told the RJD chief in the courtroom on Thursday that he had received several calls from “your well-wishers,” adding sternly that he would take the decisions “as per law only”.