Zee Media Bureau
Ranchi: In a crucial verdict, a CBI-designated court on Monday convicted all the 45 accused, including Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, in fodder scam case.
Yadav has been sent to Birsa Munda central jail. The quantum of punishment will be announced through video-conferencing on October 03.
Lalu Prasad Yadav, who had waved to supporters as he arrived at the court in Ranchi amidst stringent security, appeared calm while leaving the premises and did not take any question as his car sped away to the jail located at Hotwar on the outskirts of Ranchi, adjacent to the National Games Village.
He had arrived in Ranchi on Sunday along with his son Tejasvi by a plane and stayed in the railway guest house.
On way to court on Monday, he offered prayers at the Durga temple on Ranchi`s Ratu Road.
RJD leaders, including Lok Sabha member Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, Prabhunath Singh and Lalu`s brother-in-law Sadhu Yadav, were present in the courtroom when the judgment was pronounced.
The RJD chief faces immediate disqualification as Lok Sabha member under a recent Supreme Court order that an MP or MLA would stand disqualified immediately if convicted by a court for crimes with punishment of two years or more and under some other laws even without jail sentence.
The August judgement of the Supreme Court struck down a provision in the electoral law that provided protection to sitting MPs and MLAs by allowing them to continue in their posts if they appeal against a lower court conviction and secure a stay of the order.
Lalu would have got protection from disqualification if the ordinance promulgated by the Centre was cleared by President Pranab Mukherjee but he is said to have some reservations and raised questions over it.
Meanwhile, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi has compounded problems by attacking the ordinance and calling for its withdrawal, virtually sealing its fate.
RJD spokesperson Manoj Jha said they would challenge the order in a higher court after the sentence is known.
The multi-million animal husbandry department scam, popularly known as the fodder scam, accuses Lalu Yadav and Jagannath Mishra - both former chief ministers of Bihar, ministers from the department, two IAS officials and others, of fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 37.70 crore from Chaibasa district treasury of Jharkhand.
Lalu Yadav`s lawyer had completed arguments in the case on September 17.
There were a total of 56 accused in the case. But during the trial, seven accused died, two turned approver, one admitted to the crime and one was discharged.
Judge PK Singh had fixed July 15 as the date of verdict, and asked the remaining 45 accused to be present in the court.
Yadav moved the Jharkhand High Court and later the Supreme Court, seeking change of the judge in the case. Both the courts dismissed his petition, and directed him to complete argument in the case before the CBI court.
Yadav quit the chief minister`s post in 1997 when his name figured in the CBI investigations in the scam, which surfaced in 1996.
Around 54 of the 61 cases were transferred to Jharkhand, after it was created as a separate state from Bihar in November 2000. Different CBI courts have passed judgments in more than 43 cases. Yadav and Jagannath Mishra are accused in five cases.
(With Agency inputs)