Ahmedabad: A special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in Ranchi on Saturday sentenced Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) president Lalu Prasad to three-and-a-half years in jail and fined him Rs5 lakh in a fodder scam related to the withdrawal of at least Rs89 lakh from the Deoghar treasury between 1991 and 1994.
The court had convicted another 14 people in the case and acquitted seven, including former Bihar chief minister Jagannath Mishra, last month.
“The judiciary performed its duty. We will go to the high court after studying the sentence and apply for a bail,” Tejashwi Yadav, Lalu Prasad’s son and the leader of the opposition in the Bihar assembly, said after the sentence was announced. “We trust the judiciary. Lalu is not scared of anyone. We are united and we will continue to fight.”
“People who were creating a scene that Lalu ji will be scared can now see that he will neither be scared nor kneel or turn away from his ideology,” he added.
Lalu Prasad, a former Union railways minister during the first term of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) led by the Congress, was also convicted in 2013 in another case related to the fraudulent withdrawal of Rs37 lakh from the Chaibasa treasury. He was sentenced to five years’ rigorous imprisonment and was disqualified as a member of Parliament from the Chapra constituency and barred from contesting elections for six years. He was later granted bail.
Lalu Prasad and Mishra were both accused in a total of five cases related to the fodder scam, which involved the embezzlement of as much as Rs900 crore from the Bihar exchequer. The scam, involving the fabrication of vast herds of fictitious livestock for which fodder, medicines and animal husbandry equipment was supposedly procured over 20 years, was uncovered in 1996.
Lalu Prasad was chief minister of Bihar from 1990 to 1997 while a member of the Janata Dal. He resigned after the CBI issued an arrest warrant for him, then formed the RJD and installed his wife Rabri Devi as chief minister.
The RJD chief and his wife were also charged in a disproportionate assets case in 1998, but were acquitted by a CBI court in 2006.