Fodder scam case: Judge says got phone calls from Lalu Prasad’s supporters

The court had convicted Lalu Prasad for offences of cheating with criminal conspiracy under the Indian Penal Code and the Prevention of Corruption Act.

india Updated: Jan 04, 2018 20:27 IST
Bedanti Saran
Bedanti Saran
Hindustan Times, Ranchi
Lalu Prasad Yadav,Fodder Scam,Fodder Scam Case
Bihar's former chief minister Lalu Yadav escorted by police officials after appearing at the special CBI court, in Ranchi on Wednesday. (PTI)

CBI judge Shivpal Singh on Thursday told Lalu Prasad he got “phone calls from your well-wishers” after he convicted the RJD chief in a fodder scam case but he would follow the law, as the court again deferred the sentencing of the Bihar leader.

The judge made the remarks after the Rashtriya Janata Dal chief and former Bihar chief minister urged him to be lenient with the punishment in the case of fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 89.27 lakh from Deoghar treasury.

“I got phone calls from your well-wishers after your conviction but don’t worry, I will follow only law,” the judge said, without elaborating. He had on December 23 convicted Prasad and 15 others in the 21-year old case.

“It’s between the judge and Prasad. We were not aware of someone making phone call to the judge, who is free to take legal action against the caller,” Prasad’s lawyer Prabhat Kumar said.

The brief talk between the judge and Prasad took place soon after the 69-year-old leader was brought to the court in the afternoon from the Birsa Munda Central jail, where he has been lodged after the guilty verdict.

The court recorded arguments of five convicts in alphabetic order -- from A to K -- and adjourned hearing for Friday 2pm when Prasad’s advocate would get a chance to speak.

“This (arguments) could be done through video-conferencing facility... We can’t say if the court will pronounce the quantum of sentence on Saturday. It may fix some other day to pronounce the sentence,” Prasad’s lawyer Kumar said. The RJD chief faces a minimum of one year in jail and a maximum of seven years.

Talking about the judge’s statement, Kumar said in courtrooms judges interacted with advocates and litigants in lighter vein “but these things are not recorded. Today’s discussion was a similar sort of thing”.

Prasad urged the judge to drop charges of contempt of court against his younger son, Tejaswi Yadav, and others.

The court on January 3 issued contempt notices to Congress’s Manish Tewari and RJD’s Tejaswi, Shivanand Tiwari and Raghuvansh Prasad Singh for allegedly criticising the fodder scam judgment.

“They had mocked the court’s order by making unwarranted comments,” the judge said, seeking their replies by January 23.

The fodder scam rocked undivided Bihar and came to light in 1996. A CBI probe uncovered that the fraud was part of a racket to bleed more than Rs 900 crore from the exchequer by showing spends for fictitious medicines and fodder for cattle.

Of the 53 cases registered since 1996, Prasad was an accused in five cases. In 2013, he was found guilty in the case of fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 37.70 crore from Chaibasa treasury. He has challenged the conviction in the Jharkhand high court.

He is awaiting sentence in the second and the remaining three cases are in different stages of trial.

First Published: Jan 04, 2018 17:10 IST