PATNA: RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav was on Saturday sentenced to fourteen years in jail and a fine of Rs 60 lakh in the fourth case of Bihar’s Rs 1,000-crore fodder scam in which he was convicted along with 18 others accused.
Ranchi special CBI special court judge Shiv Pal Singh pronounced the sentences in the Dumka treasury case (RC 38A/96) of the 22-year-old scam through video-conferencing. This is the severest sentence handed to the 69-year-old former Bihar chief minister so far in the fodder scam cases. Yadav and 18 other accused in the Dumka case were convicted and 12 accused were acquitted on March 19. Former Bihar CM Jagannath Mishra was among those acquitted in the case.
Yadav was awarded seven years imprisonment and a fine of Rs 30 lakh under Sections of Indian Penal Code (IPC) and seven more years and a fine of Rs 30 lakh under Sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. The ailing leader was convicted under 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of IPC, read with Sections 419, 420, 467, 468 (pertaining to cheating, forgery etc) of IPC and the PC Act. Yadav’s lawyers said the judge ordered that both sentences will run consecutively.
The Dumka treasury case pertains to fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 3.76 crore from the government treasury in Dumka, presently in Jharkhand, by officials of the state animal husbandry department in collusion with politicians, bureaucrats and suppliers of animal food even though the withdrawal limit was fixed at just Rs 1.50 lakh. The funds were withdrawn from the treasury through 96 fake vouchers between December 1995 and January 1996, when Yadav was the chief minister of Bihar.
The special CBI courts in Ranchi have earlier handed Yadav jail terms for 13 years and a half after finding him guilty in three other cases of the scam. He was handed a five-year jail term in the Chaibasa treasury case in September 2013; a jail term for three years and a half in the Deoghar treasury case in December 2017; and a jail term for five years in another case linked to the Chaibasa treasury in January last.
Yadav, who also served as railway minister in the UPA-I government, learnt of the latest punishment at Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) in Ranchi, where he is under treatment for a week. He was brought to RIMS from Birsa Munda Central Jail at Hotwar near Ranchi on March 17 after his health condition worsened. He has been lodged in the jail since December 23, 2017.
“We will study the judgment and decide our future course. But what is clear from all these developments is that BJP and Nitish Kumar are deeply scared of Lalu Prasad Yadav and can go to any extent to keep him out of jail,” said Yadav’s younger son and Bihar Opposition leader Tejashwi Yadav soon after the punishment was announced by the court.
Tejashwi, who is Lalu’s heir apparent, also said he fears for his father’s life. “BJP and Nitish Kumar know that if Lalu Prasad Yadav comes out of jail, the formidable national alliance he will form will crush BJP and its allies in the 2019 general elections”.
“Such statements about a judicial verdict make no sense at all. It is neither BJP nor Nitish Kumar who has handed the jail terms to Lalu Prasad Yadav,” said Bihar deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi of BJP.