NEW DELHI: Former chief minister of Bihar Lalu Prasad was today sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison and fined rupees five lakh by a special CBI court in the second fodder scam case in which he was found guilty. Minutes before the sentence was announced, Lalu’s son and RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav had expressed his faith in the judiciary.

“The judiciary performed its duty. We will go to the high court after studying the sentence and apply for bail,” he said. The sentence was delivered today via video conferencing after being postponed three times this week.

While completing sentencing hearings in this fodder scam case today, Judge Shivpal Singh wryly observed that “an open jail is best for the convicts, because they have experience in cow farming.”

The CBI court had on December 23 convicted the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief and 15 others in a case related to the fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 84.5 lakh from the Deoghar district treasury in Bihar between 1990 and 1994. Lalu was convicted in the first of five fodder scam cases, in 2013, and for that was sentenced to five years in prison.

The former chief minister of Bihar is currently lodged in Birsa Munda Central Jail in Ranchi.

Yesterday, Lalu sought a minimum punishment citing health issues. His lawyer, Chittaranjan Sinha, also confirmed that the RJD leader was dealing with a lot of health issues. Sinha said earlier he hoped for minimum punishment in this second case, on account of the RJD chief’s age.

“I have no role in this scam directly; consider minimum punishment keeping in view my age and health grounds,” said Lalu in his plea.

The trial in this second of five fodder scam cases against Lalu was completed on December 13. Ten days later, the court acquitted another former Bihar chief minister Jagannath Mishra and five others in the scam case. There were 34 accused, of which 11 died during the trial, while one turned CBI approver and admitted to the crime. The 16 convicted persons include three former IAS officials Phoolchand Mandal, Beck Julius, and Mahesh Prasad.

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