Lalu Yadav has already been convicted in four other matters related to the infamous 950 crore fodder scam, and is out on bail in all of them.
Ranchi, Jharkhand: Lalu Prasad Yadav, the RJD chief and former Bihar chief minister, has been found guilty of illegal withdrawals of 139.35 crore from the Doranda treasury by a special CBI court in Ranchi, Jharkhand. Lalu Yadav, who has now been convicted in all five fodder scam cases in which he was named as a conspirator, sat in the courtroom Tuesday morning as Judge CK Shashi read out the verdict. A total of 98 other accused were physically present, of whom 24 were acquitted.
Thirty-five others were sentenced to three years in prison, including former MP Jagdish Sharma and then Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Chairman Dhruv Bhagat. The sentencing for Lalu Yadav and the 39 others convicted will take place on February 21.
Lalu Yadav has already been found guilty of four other charges related to the infamous 950 crore fodder scam – fraudulent withdrawals of ₹ 37.7 crore and ₹ 33.13 crore from the Chaibasa treasury, ₹ 89.27 crore from the Deoghar treasury, and ₹ 3.76 crore from the Dumka treasury.
For his conviction in the Dumka case he was also handed a fine of ₹ 60 lakh. For all four previous convictions and likely for this one as well, he has challenged them. There have been swindlings of government funds used for cattle fodder in all of the cases. His total prison sentence to date is 14 years, but he is out on bond for four of the convicted cases; the last of them (the Dumka treasury case) took place last spring. During Lalu Yadav’s time as Chief Minister, funds were taken between 1991 and 1996 by Bihar’s Animal Husbandry Department. Additionally, he served over 3.5 years in judicial custody as part of his sentence.
The 73-year-old has been behind bars since December 2017, serving most of his sentence at the Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences in Jharkhand. In January last year, his health deteriorated and he was brought to Delhi. Lalu Yadav will have to return to jail if he is given a sentence of over three years in this case.
Tejashwi Yadav led the RJD in his absence, and the party is credited with its strong showing in the 2020 Bihar election – the first time in 40 years Lalu Yadav missed a state election campaign. However, his absence has not lead to him relinquishing control of the RJD.
Although he faces legal and medical problems, he has said he has no plans to seek such an appointment, and that his son, Tejashwi Yadav, will have to wait until after his death before taking his place as leader. The Bihar Assembly now has Tejashwi Yadav as Leader of the Opposition.