A special court on Friday deferred the sentencing of Lalu Prasad Yadav till Saturday in a decades' old case relating to the notorious multi-million-rupees fodder scam, for the third day in a row.
The case relates to fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 89.27 lakh from Deoghar treasury 21 years ago. The sentence will be pronounced via video conferencing even as Lalu had assured the court on Thursday that he was ready to appear in person. He assured the special CBI court judge Shiv Pal Singh that there would be no slogans raised in the courtroom by his supporters.
The court had, on Thursday, deferred the pronouncement of sentence to Friday, for the second day in a row.
According to lawyers, Lalu can be awarded three to seven years' punishment. If he gets three years' term, he would get bail soon after sentencing.
Thursday's proceedings were also marked with funny one-liners, characteristic of the veteran politician. In the midst of the hearing, Lalu told the judge that he found it "very cold" in prison. Judge Singh, hearing the case, was quick to reply, "Then, play tabla (musical instrument)".
According to a lawyer who was present in the courtroom, Lalu told the judge: "Sir, jail me thanda bahut lagta hai. (It is very cold in the prison.)"
The RJD leader added there were other problems too. "I am not allowed to meet people."
The judge responded: "That's why you are called to the court so that you can meet people. If you feel cold, then play harmonium or tabla to beat the cold."
During the course of proceedings in the packed courtroom, the judge told Lalu that he had read the latter's record and had vigilance remained tight, such a thing (fodder scam) would not have happened.
The judge further commented that the RJD chief did not act promptly on which Lalu in his characteristic style said, "Sir, I am also a lawyer." "Then take a degree in jail," the judge quipped in.
Lalu further said, "Sir, everything gets ok if one has a cool mind." The judge, however, said, "I do not listen to anyone. Your well wishers' calls are coming from far off places... and I am cool."
Lalu is now lodged at the Birsa Munda Central Jail in Ranchi. A Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court on 23 December convicted the Rashtriya Janata Dal chief and 15 others in a case relating to the fodder scam.
In 1996, the Patna High Court had ordered an inquiry into the fodder scam cases and a charge sheet in the Deogarh treasury case was filed against 38 people on 27 October, 1997. Eleven of them died and three turned approvers while two other accused confessed and were convicted in 2006-07, a CBI official said.
On 30 September, 2013, Lalu, Jagannath Mishra and several others had been convicted in another case pertaining to illegal withdrawal of Rs 37.7 crore from Chaibasa Treasury in the early 1990s. The latest conviction is the second in the scam.
Lalu faces three additional fodder scam cases for illegal withdrawal of Rs 3.97 crore from the Dumka treasury, Rs 36 crore from the Chaibasa treasury and Rs 184 crore from the Doranda treasury.
However, the RJD chief is expected to get bail soon after sentencing. He had requested that he be awarded a minimum sentence on health grounds over his diabetes and heart surgery. The RJD leader also said that he was suffering from a bladder infection.
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Updated Date: Jan 05, 2018 16:49:14 IST