The CBI court in Ranchi will announce the quantum of sentence to 34 of those convicted, including RJD chief Lalu Prasad, in the multi-crore fodder scam case through videoconferencing on Thursday.
Lalu’s counsel said they will pray for a lenient sentence for the RJD chief citing his stature as a former Union minister and health.
On Monday, the court of special judge PK Singh had held Lalu and 44 others guilty of fraudulently withdrawing `37.70 crore from Chaibasa treasury between 1994 and 1995. Lalu also faces disqualification from Parliament post his sentence.
Lalu’s counsel, senior advocate Chitranjan Sinha said, “The court will hear arguments on fixing the quantum of sentence on October 3. The said procedure will be taken up in the morning. The court will communicate the sentences to Lalu and others through videoconferencing post lunch.”
Sinha said that senior advocate Surender Singh from Jabalpur high court will argue on Lalu’s behalf.
“We will urge the court to award a lesser sentence to Lalu keeping in view that there was no direct evidence against him. Also, he was Union railway minister and is also suffering from several ailments including diabetes and hypertension,” Sinha said.
However, special public prosecutor for the CBI BMP Singh said, “All convicts take such stand. We will request the court to award maximum punishment to the convicts as the charges have been proved beyond an iota of doubt”.
Former Bihar chief minister Jagannath Mishra, also convicted in the case, is undergoing treatment at Ranchi’s Rajendra Prasad Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS). He will either be shifted to jail or produced before the court on Thursday as there is no videoconferencing facility in the hospital.
“The court may defer the date of pronouncement of sentences with respect to Mishra,” said senior advocate of high court BM Tripathy.
Out of the 45 people convicted, 34 -- including Lalu – are lodged at Jharkhand’s Birsa Munda Central Jail since Monday. The court had released eight convicts on bail the same day as they were sentenced to three years imprisonment. The court had also issued arrest warrant against three convicts who failed to appear before the court.