Zee Media Bureau
Ranchi: The arguments for the quantum of punishment in the fodder scam will begin on Tuesday.
Bringing to end one of India`s longest-running corruption cases, a court in the Jharkhand capital on Monday convicted Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad and 44 others for illegal withdrawal of millions of rupees from the then undivided Bihar`s animal husbandry department in the early 1990s, in what is popularly known as the fodder scam.
Convicted for forgery, cheating, falsification of accounts and conspiracy, among other offences, and offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, the former Bihar chief minister faces a maximum of seven years jail.
The quantum of sentence against Lalu Prasad and 37 convicts will be announced on October 03. Eight convicts were sentenced on Monday itself.
Those convicted also included former chief minister Jagannath Mishra of the Congress and Janata Dal-United MP Jagdish Sharma, for fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 377 million from the district treasury in Chaibasa, now in Jharkhand after the state`s division in 2000.
The case is related to alleged fraudulent withdrawal of money from the treasury during 1994-95 using forged letters and spurious bills, raised without the actual supply of medicines, instruments, maize and groundnut cake to the husbandry officer of Chaibasa, the CBI said.
After the day`s proceedings, Lalu Prasad was sent to Birsa Munda central jail in Ranchi.
The verdict is crucial for Lalu Prasad and his political future since the central government ordinance that would have shielded convicted parliamentarians and legislators from disqualification may be withdrawn after Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi trashed it.
Lalu Prasad`s wife and former Bihar chief minister Rabri Devi alleged that he has become a victim of an opposition conspiracy, and asserted that in his absence, she and her two sons will lead the RJD and work hard to strengthen the party.
There were a total of 56 accused in the case. But during the trial, seven accused died, two turned approvers, one admitted to the crime and one was discharged.
(With IANS inputs)