The Supreme Court today denied bail to Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad, who is serving jail time after being convicted in corruption cases known as ‘fodder scam’.
Lalu’s lawyer, Kapil Sibal, said Lalu was given a 14-year sentence and not 25 years, and he is not “running away”.
To this, Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi replied, “Whether it is 25 years or 14, the High Court will decide. We can ask the High Court to expedite the cases against politicians.”
The court tersely told Lalu he has so far served only 24 months against his 25-year conviction.
Sibal, also a senior Congress politician, asked what could be the danger if Lalu was released on bail, to which the court replied, “There is no danger, except you are convicted. We don’t think we can grant bail. Petition dismissed.”
The Central Bureau of Investigation on Tuesday had said Lalu Yadav must not be allowed any reprieve. In an affidavit to the Supreme Court, the CBI said Lalu’s nefarious act as chief minister of a state shook the conscience of the entire nation, and he was misleading the court by asking for bail on medical grounds.
The CBI told the court that the leader hasn’t served his jail term but has been staying in a special ward of a hospital. Last year, Lalu was granted six weeks’ provisional bail. It added that the former chief minister “is conducting political activities from a special ward of a hospital.”
The RJD chief has been lodged in Ranchi’s Birsa Munda Jail since Deecmber 2017 after a CBI court convicted him in three cases related to the fodder scam. Lalu was held guilty in the multi-million-rupee scam involving the embezzlement of government funds meant for cattle fodder in the 1990s when he was chief minister of undivided Bihar.
The theft spanned for many years, and involved numerous administrative and elected officials across multiple administrations of the Congress and the Janata Dal parties. The corruption scheme involved the fabrication of “vast herds of fictitious livestock” for which fodder, medicines and animal husbandry equipment was supposedly procured.
Although the scandal broke in 1996, the theft had been in progress, and increased in size, for over two decades. Besides the magnitude and duration of the theft, the scam hit national headlines as it reflected how the Mafia Raj had penetrated several government-run economic sectors in the country.