A special CBI court sentenced Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Lalu Prasad to 14 years in prison for corruption on Saturday, dealing a massive setback to the embattled politician who has been in a Ranchi jail since last December after his conviction in two similar cases of what is widely known as fodder scam.
Initial reports had said the 69-year-old politician got a seven-year jail term and was slapped with a fine of Rs 30 lakh.
The court said Prasad will have to serve two separate seven-year terms consecutively in the case related to the fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 3.76 crore from Dumka treasury during December 1995 to January 1996. He will also have to pay a fine of Rs 60 lakh under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Prevention of Corruption Act.
Prabhat Kumar, Prasad’s counsel, told journalists that he will appeal in a higher court against the judgment.
Prasad’s conviction in the first case in 2013 had led to his disqualification from the Lok Sabha membership. Saturday’s verdict appears to be a big setback to his plans of a political comeback.
The fodder scam, probed by the CBI, relates to the fraudulent withdrawal of nearly Rs 950 crore between 1990 and 1995 when public funds were swindled from different treasuries for fictitious spends on fodder and other expenses for cattle.
In the Dumka case, the court of special CBI judge Shivpal Singh convicted Prasad and 18 others guilty on March 19. It acquitted 12 accused, including former Bihar CM Jagannath Mishra.
Prasad has now been convicted in four fodder scam cases out of six registered against him in Jharkhand and Bihar.
His first conviction came on September 30, 2013, in Chaibasa treasury case related to the fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 37.70 crore. Handed a five-year jail term, Prasad came out of jail after 77 days on bail granted by the Supreme Court in December that year.
His trouble renewed again in 2017 when a special CBI court on December 23 convicted him in the second scam related to the fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 89.27 lakh from the Deoghar treasury. Prasad was sentenced 3.5 years of jail term in this case.
A month later on January 24, another CBI court convicted and sentenced him five years of imprisonment in Chaibasa treasury case related to the fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 33.13.
Since then he has been serving his term in Ranchi’s Birsa Munda Central Jail. About a week ago Prasad was shifted to a Ranchi hospital after he complained of discomfort.
He is still facing trial in the last case in Jharkhand. This is the biggest fodder scam case related to fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 139 crore from Ranchi’s Doranda treasury and involving 120 accused.