RJD chief Lalu Prasad convicted in another fodder scam case, jailed

RJD supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav escorted by police officials after being convicted by the special CBI court in a fodder scam case, in Ranchi on Saturday.

Patna: A special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court on Saturday convicted Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) president and former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad in a 21-year-old fodder scam case relating to fraudulent withdrawal of Rs8.45 million from a local treasury in united Bihar.

The quantum of punishment will be announced on January 3 next year. Soon after being pronounced guilty, the RJD president was taken into custody and moved to a local jail as thousands of his suppers who were present in the court to hear the judgement waved to him with moist eyes.

The court of justice Shivpal Singh, however, acquitted six accused in the case, including another former chief minister Dr Jagannath Mishra.

RJD chief Prasad had been quite hopeful of getting a “favourable” judgement in the fodder scam case, especially in the aftermath of two recent judgements which saw all the accused people in the 2G scam acquitted by the court and then the court rejecting the sanction granted by the Maharashtra governor to prosecute former chief minister Ashok Chavan In Adarsh housing society case.

Much to his shock, however, Prasad along with 15 other accused people were convicted in the second fodder scam case by the judge. The RJD, however, has announced it would move the higher court against this judgement.

“We are indeed disappointed but we are hopeful of getting a reprieve from the upper court,” declared senior party leader Jagadanand Singh alleging “the judgement has not been delivered on the basis of facts, but on the basis of perception”. He described CBI as not the competent investigating agency and cited the two recent court judgements to prove his points. Singh who had been a minister in the previous RJD government in the state declared he would further intensify the agitation for the common masses.

Another RJD leader attacked the federal government’s alleged double-standard in pursuing the cases related to corruption. “The chief minister (Nitish Kumar) under whose regime a mega NGO scam worth around Rs200 billion surfaced still continues in his office just because his party is allied with the ruling BJP while Prasad is being punished for exposing the fodder scam cases,” said RJD’s chief spokesperson Manoj Jha. Kumar switched sides in July this year to return to the BJP camp and formed his new government with the BJP support while breaking alliance with the erstwhile Grand Alliance which had helped him win elections in the 2015 assembly elections.

Jha also wondered over the way the ruling Narendra Modi government has kept on repeatedly ignoring the firm owned by BJP chief Amit Shah’s son whose revenue allegedly jumped from just Rs50,000 to Rs800 million in a single financial year.

The RJD president is an accused in a total of six multimillion dollar fodder scam cases and this was the second case in succession where the judgement came on Saturday. He already has been pronounced guilty in one case after which he was sentenced to a five-year jail term.

The first judgement which came in September 2013 had completely destroyed his active political career. The conviction not only resulted in his instant disqualification from Parliament but also a ban on contesting elections for a decade for the 69-year-old politician.

Prasad who also served as the chief minister of Bihar for six years as well as federal railway minister, suffered a serious jolt in May this year when India’s top court revived the conspiracy and fraud charges against him in other fodder scam cases stating that separate trials would go in the remaining cases while quashing the 2014 Jharkhand high court’s order in this regard.

The apex court gave its verdict on May 8 this year on a CBI plea opposing the dropping of charges against the RJD president by the Jharkhand High Court. The CBI had moved the SC after the High Court dropped conspiracy charges against Prasad in November 2014 on the ground that “a person cannot be tried twice for the same offence”.

The apex court not only set aside the ruling of the lower court but also ordered the trial court to conclude the trail within nine months. The case took a curious turn in August this year when the RJD chief charged the trial court judge Shivpal Singh with misbehaving with one of his witnesses in the case and moved the Jharkhand High Court, seeking for transfer of the case to another court. The High Court, however, dismissed his plea finding no merit in it.

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