While sentencing former Bihar chief minister and RJD Chief Lalu Prasad Yadav to 3.5 years rigorous imprisonment (RI) and 15 other convicts, in a fodder scam case on Saturday, the special CBI Judge had also recommended shifting all the convicts preferably to Hazaribagh Open Jail.
With many of the convicts citing old age and poor health, the Judge said that shifting them to Hazaribagh Open Jail would help them get better atmosphere and also they could serve in the dairy being run there, as they are expert in supply(ing) feed, fodder and medicine to animals.
The Open Jail in Hazaribagh was inaugurated in 2013 and initially 25 inmates, 18 of whom were members of Maoist offshoot and People’s Liberation Front of India, were accommodated. It has around 100 cottages with facility to accommodate the prisoners with their family.
Counsel for Lalu, Prabhat Kumar, however, claimed that, as per his knowledge, the Open Jail was meant for life convicts, who were good in conduct. IG (Prisons) Harsh Mangalam could not be contacted. A text message sent to him also remained unanswered.
On Saturday, towards the end of the sentencing process through video-conferencing, special CBI Judge Shivpal Singh made a mention of recommending the convicts to an Open Jail, when one of the convicts requested for a lesser punishment.
In his order on the sentence, a copy of which was made available on Sunday, the Judge said, “After perusal of all documentary and oral evidences on record, it transpires that the offence is related to AHD (animal husbandry department). Convicted accused are experts in supplying feed, fodder, medicine to animals and some accused are doctors of animals. So, it is recommended to State Government that (it) preferably use Open Jail, which is running in the Jharkhand state in Hazaribagh.”
“The atmosphere of the Open Jail is good for convicted accused because they are old age. So, they can easily serve awarded sentences and help in dairy which is (being run) by Open Jail authority in that jail campus, according to jail manual,” the Judge said in the order.
Lalu’s counsel Prabhat Kumar said, “We have gone through the order. In the last para, it is mentioned that my client and other convicts should be preferably taken to Open Jail in Hazaribagh. However, as per my information and knowledge, the same may not be possible. The jail is meant for life convicts and other types of hardened criminals like terrorists etc. We had never made any such request or submission before the court. We will have to wait and see how things proceed.”
During the hearings on point of sentence, which started on January 3 and ended on January 6, most of the accused had sought lenient punishment on grounds of old age, poor health and the fact that they were sole earners for their families.
For instance, Yadav had submitted before the court that he was a diabetic and had gone heart surgery. Besides, there was problem of water retention in kidney and he was consuming 18 medicines in a day. It was submitted that he needed proper care and precautions, failure to do so might lead to irreparable medical conditions.
However, the CBI counsel, Rakesh Prasad, had opposed the same citing active involvement of Yadav in politics. The counsel had cited that Yadav actively participated in rally held in Patna on August 27. He had sought maximum punishment.
Many other convicts had sought leniency on ground of old age and also that they were the sole bread earners for their families.