Former Bihar chief minister and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav Wednesday was granted interim bail till January 19 by Delhi’s Patiala court in connection with two IRCTC cases. Lalu, who is serving a jail term in Ranchi in a connection with a fodder scam case, appeared before the court via video-conferencing. He had told the court that he would not be able to be physically present for the hearing due to his ill-health.
The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) case, being probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED), pertains to alleged irregularities in granting contracts of two IRCTC hotels to a private firm.
Special Judge Arun Bharadwaj, who is hearing the case, asked the CBI and ED to respond to Lalu’s application seeking for regular bail in the two cases. The next date of hearing is on January 19.
Lalu’s wife and former CM Rabri Devi and their son Tejashwi Yadav were among those who were earlier granted bail by the court in connection with the cases. The accused are facing charges of criminal conspiracy (120-B) and cheating (420) under the Indian Penal code (IPC).
The IRCTC hotel-for-land scam dates back to when Lalu was railways minister under the UPA-I government (2004-09). The CBI is probing alleged irregularities in tenders allotted to Sujata Hotels, a private company, for the development, maintenance and operation of two railway hotels BNR Ranchi and Puri. The CBI alleged that as quid pro quo, Rabri and Tejashwi were given prime property in Patna at throwaway prices.
The CBI alleges Lalu abused his position and favoured Sujata Hotel, a company owned by directors Vinay and Vijay Kochhar. In return, he acquired “high-value premium land” through a benami company, Delight Marketing Company, for Rs 1.5 crore. Between 2010 and 2014, the ownership of the company was gradually handed to Rabri and Tejashwi.
Meanwhile, the ED has attached a three-acre plot worth Rs 44.7 crore in Patna which allegedly belongs to Lalu’s family. The property, provisionally attached under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), is also the subject of a CBI inquiry and members of the family have been questioned by central agencies.