Lalu convicted in fodder scam, sent to jail

Fodder scam: Lalu convicted, sent to jail; Dr Jagannath Mishra acquitted

Abhay Kumar

RANCHI (Jharkhand), DHNS: The Special CBI judge on Saturday convicted RJD chief and former chief minister Lalu Prasad, while acquitting ex-CM Dr Jagannath Mishra in the much-awaited fodder scam case.

Lalu, who was present in the CBI court at Ranchi, was taken into custody and sent to Birsa Munda Jail where he will have to cool his heels for another 10 days. "The quantum of punishment for Lalu and other convicted persons will be pronounced on January 3 through video-conferencing," said the CBI judge Shivpal Singh.

Altogether 17 accused, out of 22 persons, were convicted, while five, including Mishra, were let off.

This was the most keenly watched judgement as it involved two former chief ministers of Bihar, besides six retired bureaucrats, among 22 accused.

The RJD leaders were hugely disappointed on hearing the verdict. Some of them cried foul although they refrained from making any adverse remarks against the court. "Is this justice? A former chief minister (Mishra) has been acquitted while another former chief minister (Lalu Prasad) has been jailed in the same case. How can you have double yardstick? 'Lalu ko jail, Mishra ko bail, yehi hai Narendra Modi ka khel' (Jail to Lalu, bail to Mishra...this is the gameplan/design of Narendra Modi)," argued RJD vice-president and former Union Minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh.

Amid commotion on the court campus where RJD leaders felt let down, Lalu was sent to jail on Saturday evening amid tight police security.

This case RC 64A/96 is related to fraudulent withdrawal of around Rs 90 lakh from Deogarh treasury, in which Lalu as well as Mishra were accused. As many as 38 persons were named accused in the case. However, 12 died during trial, two became approvers and two others pleaded guilty.

The 22 accused included six bureaucrats, including Beck Julius, Mahesh Prasad, A C Choudhary, KK Prasad, Sudhir Bhattacharya and Phoolchand Singh, all of whom have now retired. This case reached its conclusion 21 years after the scam was unearthed.

Lalu was earlier convicted and jailed in another fodder scam case RC 20A/96 on September 13, 2013 after the judge found him guilty. The conviction got him five years imprisonment, disqualification from the Lok Sabha and a ban on contesting elections for six years after his jail term ends.

However, the Supreme Court granted him bail in December 2013. A trial against Lalu was revived this year after the apex court restored corruption charges, and on May 8, asked the lower court to separately try the accused in Deoghar treasury case RC 64A/96 and complete the hearing within nine months.

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