Ranchi: A special CBI court on Saturday convicted RJD chief and former Bihar Chief Minister Lalu Prasad and 15 others in a case relating to the multi-million rupee fodder scam. The Rashtriya Janata Dal said it will challenge the verdict in the High Court.
The court acquitted another former Bihar Chief Minister Jagannath Mishra and five others in the case, related to fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 84.5 lakh from the Deoghar district treasury.
The CBI court will pronounce the quantum of sentence on January 3.
Lalu Prasad was sent to Birsa Munda Central Jail. His son and RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav was present in court and accompanied his father to the jail campus. Angry RJD workers tried to stop the police vehicle when Lalu Prasad was being taken to jail.
In a series of tweets, Lalu Prasad attacked the BJP over his conviction, accusing the party of playing “dirty politics” to get votes by tarnishing the image of its opponents.
The RJD chief said he would keep on fighting for social causes till his last breath. “To hide its failures, false rhetoric and to get votes, the BJP uses every dirty immoral trick in politics to change the public perception of its opponents,” he said.
Special CBI Judge Shivpal Singh delivered the judgment at around 3.40 p.m.
The accused persons appeared at the CBI court at 11 a.m. and judgment was deferred till 3 p.m.
The court directed that the properties of two accused be attached. The court also asked why the then Deputy Commissioner of Deoghar should not be made as accused.
The case relates to money being withdrawn from 1990 to 1994 from the Deoghar treasury. Lalu Prasad was Chief Minister of then undivided Bihar from 1990 to 1997.
According to a lawyer, the trial in the case was completed on December 13 in a special CBI court of Ranchi.
There were 34 accused in the case and 11 died during trial, while one turned CBI approver and admitted to the crime. The 16 convicted people include three former IAS officials Phoolchand Mandal, Beck Julius and Mahesh Prasad.
The CBI judge first read the six names who were acquitted. The acquitted people include Mishra, former Bihar Minister Vidya Sagar Nisad and then Public Accounts Committee chairman Dhruva Bhagat.
Speaking to reporters on the judgment, senior RJD leader Raghuvansh Prasad Singh said “We are disappointed with the judgment. In the same case Jagannath Mishra has been acquitted. Lalu had got jail, while Mishra has got bail. This is the game of Narendra Modi.”
Lalu Prasad and Mishra are already convicted in a fodder scam case in 2013 and are out on bail.
Both are accused in four fodder scam cases. The trial in two other cases is going on in special CBI courts of Ranchi.
The trial in three cases gained momentum in May this year after the Supreme Court directed that the trial be completed in nine months.
In Patna, senior RJD leader Jagdanand Singh, considered close to Lalu Prasad, told the media: “The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) will challenge the special CBI court’s order in the High Court soon.”
A former state Minister, Singh has termed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) as “tota” (parrot) and robot, controlled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led central government.
In New Delhi, RJD leader Manoj Jha said that the “caged parrot” (referring to the CBI) has been “unleashed on political rivals” who do not bow before the BJP.
He said the decision would not weaken the RJD workers’ resolve to fight back its rivals politically.
Targetting the BJP, Jha said that 11, Ashok Road (BJP headquarters in Delhi) was a “washing machine” that washes away all the taints of any person who bows before the party.
The Congress party also termed the CBI as behaving like a “pet performing parrot” of the Modi government.
Ahead of the verdict, in Patna, Lalu Prasad’s wife and former Bihar Chief Minister Rabri Devi had organised a special ‘puja’ at her official residence — 10, Circular Road.
Lalu’s Prasad’s elder son Tej Pratap, a former Health Minister, also visited a temple in the morning to pray for his father.