CBI pleads maximum punishment as Lalu Prasad Yadav's sentence hearing completed

RJD leader Lalu Prasad has been lodged in Birsa Munda central jail since his conviction in the fodder scam case on 23 December

RJD leader Lalu Prasad has been lodged in Birsa Munda central jail since his conviction in the fodder scam case on 23 December

A Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court on December 23 convicted the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief and 15 others in a case relating to the multi-million-rupee fodder scam.

Yadav's counsel Prabhat Kumar said: "We have appealed for minimum possible punishment on grounds of health, age and the fact that he has been contesting the case for over 20 years".

Lalu and 15 others were held guilty on December 23 in the case, which pertains to fraudulent withdrawals of around Rs 89 lakh from the Deoghar district treasury between 1990 and 1994, a part of the Rs 1,000 crore fodder scam in which government funds were embezzled in the name of cattle feed and medicines and equipment for animal husbandry.

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However, the court could not pronounce the quantum of punishment on January 4 as well and the sentencing deferred for one more day. The special CBI court on Thursday found RJD leaders Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, Tejashwi Yadav and RJD national spokesperson Manoj Jha guilty of contempt of court.

Lalu Prasad's lawyer on Tuesday told reporters that they would press for minimum punishment in the case.

In his application, Lalu Prasad said that the Birsa Munda jail did not have clean drinking water and this may affect his kidneys. Seven accused including former Bihar Chief Minister Jagannath Mishra have been acquitted in the case.

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To this, Lalu said he was for personal appearance and assured the court that there would be no slogans raised in the courtroom by his supporters. "Then why don't you do a 2-3 month course in jail so that you continue to inspire other prisoners", the judge shot back, in a lighter vein.

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.

He added that the former Bihar CM had already been awarded five years of imprisonment in 2013 in fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 37 crore from Chaibasa treasury. The lawyers also argued that the incarcerated leader had been facing trial for the last 21 years and had been imprisoned several times in connection with the fodder scam.

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