Ranchi: A special court of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in Ranchi on Monday sentenced Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Lalu Prasad Yadav to five years’ imprisonment and imposed a ₹60 lakh fine on him in the ₹139-crore fodder scam case.
The RJD supremo was convicted in the case on February 15 and the quantum of punishment was scheduled to be given out today. Yadav has been found guilty of illegal withdrawals to the tune of ₹139.35 crores from the Doranda treasury by the CBI court.
The ailing 73-year-old veteran politician, who was shifted to the Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS), Ranchi, from Hotwar jail following the conviction last week, was earlier sentenced to 14 years in jail in four other cases related to Dumka, Deoghar and Chaibasa treasuries in Jharkhand.
Yadav’s lawyer had said the senior leader would attend Monday’s hearing via videoconferencing. He was present at the court last Tuesday when the verdict was given.
A total of 170 people had been named as accused in the Doranda treasury scam case. Of these, 55 have died, seven have become government witnesses, six are absconding and two accepted the charges against them. Among the remaining 99 accused, including Yadav, the CBI court had given its verdict last week.
He has already been sentenced in four fodder scam cases. This case, RC 47A/97, was the fifth and final one and the biggest of these pertaining to a fodder scam.
The scam comes into light after a raid conducted by Deputy Commissioner of Chaibasa Amit Khare at the Animal Husbandry Department in January 1996. CBI was roped in by the Patna High Court in March 1996 after increasing pressure to investigate the case. The CBI registers an FIR in the case at the time when both Bihar and Jharkhand were a unified state.
In June 1997, Lalu Prasad was named an accused in the case for the first time in the charge sheet filed by the CBI.
Following the charge sheet and mounting pressure from the Opposition, Lalu resigned as the chief minister after which he made his wife Rabri Devi the Chief Minister of the state and silently controlled the politics in Bihar in July 1997.
Due to the bifurcation of Bihar and the formation of a new state, Jharkhand, the case is transferred to the Jharkhand High Court in October 2001. Special CBI court begins trial in the fodder scam case from February 2002. Prasad’s first conviction came in September 2013, in the Chaibasa treasury case related to fraudulent withdrawal of ₹37.70 crores.
He was handed over five years in prison leading to his disqualification from the Lok Sabha membership. He was granted bail by the Supreme Court in December that year.
The RJD chief’s trouble was renewed again in 2017 when a special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in December 2017, had convicted him in the second scam case related to fraudulent withdrawal of ₹89.27 lakh from Deoghar treasury.
Yadav was sentenced to 3.5 years of jail term in this case. He was, however, granted bail in July last year after completing half of the 3.5 years’ sentence.
The former chief minister’s third conviction came in January 2018, in the Chaibasa treasury case related to fraudulent withdrawal of ₹33.13 crores. He was awarded five years of imprisonment in this case.
Two months later, the special CBI court in March 2018, had held Prasad guilty under conspiracy and corruption charges in the scam case related to fraudulent withdrawal of ₹3.76 crores from Dumka treasury from December 1995, to January 1996. It had handed him 14 years in prison and slapped a fine of ₹60 lakh on him.