Former Bihar chief minister and RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav on Saturday was sentenced to “14 years of imprisonment” in the fourth fodder scam case that pertains to fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 3.5 crore from the Dumka treasury by Animal Husbandry Department officials between 1991 and 1996.
The conviction has been made under 120-B (criminal conspiracy), read with 419, 420, 467, 468 (pertaining to cheating, forgery etc) of Indian Penal Code and PC Act. A fine of Rs 60 lakh has also been imposed. Special CBI Judge Shivpal Singh pronounced the sentence through video-conferencing. The RJD supremo is currently admitted to RIMS hospital due to health concerns.
CBI counsel said that Lalu has been awarded seven years imprisonment under IPC sections and seven years under sections related to PC Act. “The judge has ordered that both sentences will run consecutively,” he said. However, Lalu’s counsel, Prabhat Kumar however, said that the judge has not mentioned anything specific. “Let’s wait for the copy of the order,” he said.
Lalu was on March 19 convicted by the special CBI court in Ranchi in connection with the case. Another former chief minister, Jagannath Mishra, was, however, acquitted. Of the 31 accused, the court convicted 19 and acquitted 12.
Reacting to the verdict, Lalu’s son Tejashwi Yadav said there is a threat to his father’s life. “He is a victim of a political conspiracy of BJP and JD (U). The RJD calls has also called for an emergency meeting of its senior leaders.
We will challenge it in HC. We Will decide further strategy on basis of overall judgement in all 4 cases. I am sure there is threat to Lalu Ji’s life, looking at the conspiracy being planned by BJP: Tejashwi Yadav on Lalu Yadav sentenced to 7 yrs in prison in Dumka treasury case pic.twitter.com/dlyFWGUuYv
— ANI (@ANI) March 24, 2018
BJP hits back
Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, who was one of the petitioners in the fodder scam cases in the Patna High Court, which had ordered a CBI enquiry into the scam in 1996, said, “The law has taken its own course. The verdict is not the first one in the fodder scam cases and it should be respected by all.”
He dismissed Tejashwi’s allegation that there was a threat to his father’s life and pointed out that the RJD supremo enjoyed a foolproof security in jail.
Union minister Giriraj Singh told reporters, “As one sows so one reaps. This is the law of nature and it is futile to make a fuss over today’s verdict. The RJD workers should remember that the BJP was not in power when the fodder scam cases were lodged. Even Prasad’s first conviction came when the country was being ruled by the Congress-led UPA, of which the RJD was a part.”
What is fodder scam
The scandal came to light in 1996 following a raid conducted by the Deputy Commissioner of Chaibasa, Amit Khare, at the Bihar Animal Husbandry Department.
In 1997, Lalu Prasad was charged under the Prevention of Corruption Act in connection with the fodder scam. The CBI, which was probing allegations of embezzlement of treasury funds to non-existent companies for purchase and supply of cattle fodder in Bihar, had found alleged irregularities worth Rs 950 crore. The scam forced Lalu, then CM of the state, to resign. It was during this period that he disassociated himself from the Janata Dal and formed his own party, the RJD. On resigning, he installed his wife, Rabri Devi as CM. In total, the CBI has filed 63 cases under IPC Sections 420 (forgery) and 120 (b) (criminal conspiracy) and Section 13 (b) of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
Here is a list of all fodder scam cases:
First fodder scam case: Lalu Prasad Yadav was convicted in the first fodder scam case in 2013 and awarded five years in jail. The court charged the RJD chief with fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 47 lakh from the treasuries at Banka and Bhagalpur districts, where alleged forged and fake bills were drawn by the Animal Husbandry Department in 1995-96 when he was the CM. Among the 45 other convicts were former chief minister Jagannath Misra.
The conviction also barred Yadav from contesting elections for 11 years in line with the Supreme Court order disqualifying convicts jailed for more than two years from contesting for six years after completion of their sentence. Later, he had got bail in the case.
Second fodder scam case: Months after the Grand Alliance collapsed and JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar joined hands with the BJP to form a new government, Lalu Prasad Yadav was convicted in a second fodder scam case on December 23, 2017. The case pertained to fraudulent withdrawal of money to the tune of over Rs 89 lakh from Deoghar treasury between 1991 and 1994 when Yadav was the chief minister and also handled the finance department.
He was sentenced by a special CBI court to three-and-a-half years of rigorous imprisonment, even though former CM Jagannath Misra was acquitted. Yadav was also imposed a cumulative fine of Rs 5 lakh in connection with charges under the Indian Penal Code and Rs 5 lakh pertaining to charges under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
Third fodder scam case: A month after he was convicted in the second fodder scam case, Lalu Prasad was pronounced guilty in the third case on January 25, 2018, which pertains to withdrawal of funds to the tune of Rs 37.62 crore from the treasury of West Singhbhum (Chaibasa) — now in Jharkhand – in 1992-93. Jagannath Mishra was also convicted. Both Lalu and Mishra were sentenced to five-year rigorous imprisonment under various sections of the IPC and the Prevention of Corruption Act, along with a cumulative fine of Rs 10 lakh.
Fourth fodder scam case: A special CBI court in Ranchi, on March 19, 2018, pronounced Lalu Prasad Yadav guilty in the fourth fodder scam case pertaining to alleged fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 3.5 crore from the Dumka treasury (which is now in Jharkhand) over two decades ago. The court, however, acquitted Jagannath Mishra in the case.
Fifth fodder scam case: A special CBI court will pronounce its judgment in the fifth fodder scam (Doranda treasury) case in the coming months. The case relates to fraudulent withdrawal of around Rs. 47.5 crore from the Doranda Treasury in the 1990s.