Ranchi CBI court judge Shivpal Singh, who convicted Lalu Prasad Yadav in second fodder scam case of Rs 950 crore, observed on Thursday that “he got phone calls from the RJD chief’s men” while again deferring to pronounce the quantum of sentence. “Got phone calls from Lalu’s men,” PTI quoted the judge as making this observation during the proceedings. The judge, however, did not specify who were the people that called him.
Meanwhile, the CBI’s counsel requested the CBI court judge to hand out the maximum sentence to Lalu and the 15 others accused in the case, which is related to the fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 84.5 lakh from the Deoghar district treasury in Bihar between 1990 and 1994.
“I will request the Ranchi Special CBI Court judge to give maximum sentence to the accused so that no one tries to commit such a heinous crime,” the central probe agency’s lawyer said.
The quantum of sentence is now expected to be pronounced on Friday. The former Bihar chief minister was convicted in the case on December 23, 2017, and sent to Birsa Munda prison in Ranchi. The sentencing, which was originally set to take place on Wednesday, was deferred as a mark respect to two members of the legal fraternity who had recently passed away.
CBI judge Shiv Pal Singh said he would decide on Friday whether the sentence would be given over video conference or in the court. To this, Prasad said he was for personal appearance and assured that there would be no slogans raised in the courtroom by his supporters.
On Wednesday, RJD leaders Tejashwi Yadav, Raghuvansh Singh, Shivanand Tiwari and Congress leader Manish Tiwari were held in contempt of court for their statements to the media following Lalu’s conviction. The court has sought their responses by January 23.
The fodder scam case pertains to the embezzlement of Rs 950 crore from government treasury funds to non-existent companies for the purchase and supply of cattle fodder in Bihar. The scam was unearthed in the mid-90s when Lalu was Chief Minister of the state. The court had, however, found Lalu’s predecessor and former chief minister Jagannath Mishra not guilty and acquitted him of all the charges. In the first fodder scam case, Lalu was sentenced to five years in jail. The RJD chief’s conviction has debarred him from contesting in elections for 11 years, in line with the Supreme Court judgment which forbids those awarded a jail term of more than two years from contesting.