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IBN Live reports the culmination of a corruption case where the first money was probably stolen in the 1970s and litigation started in 1996:

Lalu Prasad, the maverick Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) supremo and former Bihar chief minister, and 44 others has been convicted by a special Central Bureau of India (CBI) court in Ranchi in one of the cases – RC 20 A/96 – of the multi-crore fodder scam on Monday. Lalu has been convicted of corruption, criminal conspiracy and cheating and the sentencing will take place on October 3.

While seven of those convicted have got less than three years in jail and have been granted bail, Lalu Prasad along with another former Bihar chief minister Jagannath Mishra and 36 others have been taken into custody and will be sent to jail as they will be given a jail term of more than three years. The sentencing on October 3 will be delivered through video conferencing.

The Hindu has more details:

At 11 am today, the court of CBI judge Pravas Kumar Singh announced its order after which Mr. Prasad, former chief minister Jagannath Mishra and 36 others were taken into custody to be sent to Hotwar jail in Ranchi. The other seven accused including former animal husbandry minister Vidya Sagar Nishad and former MLA Dhruv Bhagat, two IAS officers and three suppliers who are expected to be sentenced to less than three years will be given bail later the same afternoon.

Of the 64 cases in the 1996-fodder scam, 53 cases were litigated in Ranchi and trial has been completed in 45 cases so far. The CBI’s initial chargesheet against Mr. Prasad in April 1996 had included charges in this Chaibasa case. There are 55 other accused in the case. Mr. Prasad is accused in five cases of which four are being tried in Jharkhand and one in Bihar.

“The fraudulent withdrawal of funds had begun in 1989. This case is the first one which was registered in March 1996. The trial had begun in Ranchi in February 2002 after the case was shifted here after Jharkhand was created. In all 70 witnesses from Bihar have been examined and 280 from Jharkhand. We submitted 60,000 documents. There is no street in Ranchi where we have not attached property bought from funds from the fodder scam,” said a senior official part of the investigation team.

A list of the convicted is not easy to find. Here are some more names from HT:

Former state minister Vidhay Sagar Nishad, former Public Accounts Committee chairman Dhruv Bhagat, and former state labour secretary K Armugam are among those sentenced.

LiveMint opines:

The order comes as a body blow to Prasad and could well mean the end of his political career that was beginning to see a resurrection with him and his party, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), drawing support in Bihar in the run-up to the general election.

The former Bihar chief minister becomes the first casualty of a Supreme Court order in July that immediately disqualifies Parliamentarians and state legislators convicted by a court.

The setback to Prasad will likely force a political realignment in Bihar, opening up a window of opportunity for the Congress to revive its now decimated vote base. The state’s political topography is currently dominated by Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) and the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP).

The Kolkata Telegraph joins some dots:

Rahul Gandhi’s dismissal of the ordinance to protect convicted lawmakers has come as a double whammy for embattled RJD chief Lalu Prasad ahead of judgment day in a crucial fodder scam case.

The UPA government’s hurried move to bring the ordinance was believed to be tailormade to shield Lalu. This was being read as a signal that the Congress was inclined to team up with the RJD in the 2014 general election.

Rahul’s “tear-and-throw” salvo is being seen as rejection of “corrupt” leaders like Lalu. Congress circles believe that if Rahul’s view prevails, which is likely to, he would not allow the party to “compromise” and align with the RJD.

Also, it suggests that Lalu’s chief rival, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, is fast replacing him as an “ally” in the new power balance emerging in the Congress.

Be it by coincidence or by design, Nitish and Rahul are on the same page on the controversial ordinance, which is still lying with President Pranab Mukherjee for consideration. A day ahead of Rahul’s stunning attack calling for the document to be “torn up and thrown away”, Nitish had slammed the government for the manner in which it had brought the ordinance “through the backdoor”.

October 3, 2013

HT reports:

The CBI court in Ranchi sentenced RJD chief Lalu Prasad to five years’ imprisonment in a 17-year-old fodder scam case, making him the second member of Parliament to be disqualified in the last three days.

The court also imposed a fine of Rs. 25 lakh on Lalu. In case of default in payment, the former Bihar CM will have to serve 6 months more in jail.

Lalu would appeal in the Jharkhand high court on October 17.

In accordance with the Supreme Court’s July 10 ruling which removed immunity for convicted lawmakers, the former Bihar chief minister will effectively be out of the electoral arena for 11 years, a prospect that will hit the RJD hard in Bihar as well as nationally.

The court also awarded four years’ imprisonment each to Jagannath Mishra, another former Bihar CM, and JD(U) MP Jagdish Sharma. Mishra was slapped with a penalty of Rs. 2 lakh, while Sharma has to pay up Rs. 5 lakh.

Former Bihar minister RK Rana, another high profile convict in the case, was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment. The court slapped a fine of Rs. 30 lakh on him.

Special CBI judge PK Singh, who had on Monday convicted Lalu and 44 others of fraudulent withdrawal of Rs. 37.70 crore from the Chaibasa treasury, handed down the punishment through videoconferencing.

The Chaibasa treasury case is just one of the many in the Rs. 950 crore animal husbandry department scam — commonly known as the fodder scam — in undivided Bihar (prior to Jharkhand’s formation).

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Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

September 30, 2013 at 7:49 am

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