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Lalu Prasad gets five-year jail term in Doranda treasury case

Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad at a paying ward of Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS), which is temporarily converted into a jail for him, in Ranchi, on Feb. 17, 2022.

Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad at a paying ward of Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS), which is temporarily converted into a jail for him, in Ranchi, on Feb. 17, 2022. | Photo Credit: PTI

A CBI special court on Monday sentenced Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad to five-year jail term and imposed ₹60 lakh fine in fifth case of the Animal Husbandry Department scam (commonly known as the fodder scam), related to the fraudulent withdrawal of ₹139.35 crore from the Doranda treasury in Jharkhand.

Nitish’s reaction

Soon after Mr. Prasad was sentenced by the court, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar told media persons in Patna that he was not among those who had filed “litigation” against him (Mr. Prasad). “But he [Mr. Prasad] has now many people around him who were among the litigants”, Mr. Kumar said, while pointing obliquely to senior RJD leader Shivanand Tiwari. “One such person has been with him [Mr. Prasad] sometime and sometime with me. He even sought to make me a co-petitioner but I refused to be drawn into the matter”.

Mr. Kumar further said that Mr. Prasad had to give up the Chief Minister’s chair for his wife. “There have been several cases [related to the fodder scam] and he has also been convicted in many of them. There may be some more”, he stated when asked about allegations that Mr. Prasad was paying the price for his opposition to the BJP, which now rules at the Centre.

Later, Mr. Tiwari, who is currently RJD national vice-president and was one among those who had signed the petition to demand a CBI inquiry into the fodder scam, said, “it was not an individual’s decision to file the petition in the court, but of the party, whose leader in Bihar was Mr. Nitish Kumar, and he refused to sign the petition as he lacks strength in his spine. But one question I would like to ask Mr. Kumar is had he ever not met the kingpin of the fodder scam Shyam Bihari Sinha?”.

Mr. Prasad too tweeted in Hindi, “I fight those who creates divides. They can’t defeat us so they try to trap us in conspiracies. I’ve neither been afraid, not bent before anyone. I’ll keep fighting. The coward will never understand the struggles of a fighter”.

Tejashwi’s charge

Mr. Prasad’s younger son and Leader of Opposition in the Bihar Assembly Tejashwi Yadav said, “If Lalu  ji would have shaken hands with the BJP, he would have been called Raja Harishchandra. But today, he is fighting against the RSS-BJP and facing imprisonment. We’ll not get scared with all this”. Taking on the CBI, he stated, “the Central agency has forgotten the scams done by Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi. Apart from the fodder scam, it seems no scam has happened in the country. In Bihar, almost 80 scams have happened but where is the CBI, ED and the NIA? In the country, there is only one scam and one leader.”

State RJD president Jagdanand Singh said, “the RJD is not just a political party but a hope of the common people of Bihar and Lalu Prasad is the tallest worker of the party. He stays in the heart of common people and no one can displace him”.

Earlier, along with 37 others, Mr. Prasad was convicted in the fraudulent withdrawal of of ₹139.35 crore from the Doranda treasury on February 15, 2022 and CBI court judge S.K. Sashi had reserved the quantum of punishment to the convicted persons. The court completed hearing arguments in the case on January 29.

Mr. Prasad has been convicted in four other fodder scam cases and served more than half of the jail terms in most of them. One more case linked to the scam related to illegal withdrawal of money from the Bhagalpur treasury is pending before the CBI court in Patna. 

Multiple diseases

Security personnel stand guard outside the e-court room at a special CBI Court, during the final verdict in a fodder scam case against RJD Chief Lalu Prasad, in Ranchi, on February 21, 2022.

Security personnel stand guard outside the e-court room at a special CBI Court, during the final verdict in a fodder scam case against RJD Chief Lalu Prasad, in Ranchi, on February 21, 2022. | Photo Credit: PTI

Suffering from multiple diseases, he is currently on bail and admitted to the Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) in Ranchi, from where he was virtually present in the court on Monday while the sentence was pronounced by the judge.

Apart from Mr. Prasad, former Bihar MP Jagdish Sharma, then Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman Dhruv Bhagat, AHD secretary Beck Julius and AHD director K.M. Prasad and others were accused persons in the case. Mr. Prasad has been in the Birsa Munda Central jail in Ranchi since December 2017 in different fodder scam cases and he was granted bail in April 2021. Recently, he had gone Ranchi to physically appear in court in the Doranda treasury case but was admitted again in the RIMS.

The fodder scam is a set of 55 cases, which were later clubbed into fewer cases, relating to alleged illegal withdrawal of ₹950 crore from treasuries of different districts in the undivided Bihar, mostly between 1992 and 1995. Officials of the Animal Husbandry Department had allegedly withdrawn money in cahoot with politicians against fake bills for fodder, medicine and artificial insemination equipment. They allegedly transported animals on vehicles bearing registration numbers of two-wheelers. The fodder scam had come to surface in 1996.


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Printable version | May 13, 2022 3:24:11 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/lalu-prasad-sentenced-to-five-years-jail-in-doranda-treasury-case/article65070530.ece