While sentencing former Bihar Chief Minister and RJD Chief Lalu Prasad Yadav and 15 others for the fodder scam on Saturday, the Special CBI Judge also recommended that the convicts be shifted to Hazaribagh Open Jail where they could serve in the dairy being run there.
In the order sentencing the accused, CBI Court Judge Shivpal Singh suggested, "Convicted accused are expert to supply feed, fodder, medicine to Animals and some accused are Doctor of Animals, so it is recommended to State Government that preferably use Open Jail which is running in the Jharkhand State in Hazaribagh. The atmosphere of the open jail is good for convicted accused because they are old age. So, they can serve easily awarded sentences and help in dairy which running by open jail authority in that jail campus, according to jail manual (sic)."
The recommendation seems to have been a result of the plea of leniency adopted by most of the accused, who had cited old age, poor health and the fact that they were sole earners for their families. For instance, Mr. Yadav had submitted that he was diabetic and had undergone a heart surgery. He had also submitted that he had an issue of water retention in the kidney and was consuming 18 medicines daily. He had, therefore, asserted that he needed proper care and attention.
CBI Counsel, Mr. Rakesh Prasad had, however, opposed the plea for leniency, pointing out that Mr. Yadav has been actively involved in politics. He had, in fact, cited his recent participation in a 'Mega Show' organized in Patna.
Accepting such contentions, the Court sentenced Mr. Yadav to three and a half year imprisonment for offences of cheating along with criminal conspiracy under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and for criminal misconduct by public servant under the Prevention of Corruption Act (PMLA). Both the sentences will run concurrently. He was also fined with Rs. 10 lakh.
"Fodder scam mafia" under Lalu Prasad's leadership
The fodder scam concerned embezzlement of more than Rs. 89 lakh in government funds between 1991 and 1994, when Mr. Yadav was the Chief Minister of Bihar. Pinning the blame and explaining the chain of events, Judge Singh opined that the scam could not have been possible without Mr. Yadav's support and protection to the accused.
He explained, "After perusal of records, it is clear that Dr. Ram Raj Ram and Dr. Shyam Bihari Sinha are King-pin of fodder scam and both are eye ball of the then Chief Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav. Due to eye ball of Chief Minister Dr. Ram Raj Ram and Dr. Shyam Bihari Sinha got protection of umbrella from politicians and bureaucrats. Nobody dare to oppose the nefarious activities of above both accused persons. After perusal of oral and documentary evidence as brought on behalf of both sides, court found that there was fodder scam Mafiya in the leadership of the then Chief Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav to other accused Jagdish Sharma and R.K. Rana knit criminal conspiracy and provide fully protection to accused Ram Raj Ram and Shyam Bihari Sinha, who enlisting with suppliers and other accused prepared fake allotment letters with help of financial department...
...In this way court found that if Chief Minister Lalu Yadav is not given protection to Bureaucrats, it is never possible to commit such type offence by the bureaucrats. After perusal of oral and documentary evidences, court found that prosecution side successfully proved alleged charges against accused Lalu Prasad Yadav and there is no any doubt in respect of alleged charges. In the light of above discussion the order passed later on."
Apart from Mr. Yadav, the Court also convicted Jagdish Sharma and R.K. Rana, who were with the RJD at the time of the scam, former IAS officers Beck Julius, Phoolchand Singh, and Mahesh Prasad, and ex-Government officials Krishna Kumar and Subir Bhattacharya. Besides, the suppliers/ transporters who have been convicted are Tripurari Mohan Prasad, Sushil Kumar Sinha, Sunil Kumar Sinha, Raja Ram Joshi, Gopinath Das, Sanjay Agarwal, Jyoti Kumar Jha and Sunil Gandhi.
It, however, acquitted 80-year-old Jagannath Mishra and five others — former Public Accounts Committee Chairman Dhruv Bhagat, former Indian Revenue Service officer A.C. Choudhary, fodder suppliers Saraswati Chandra and Sadhana Singh and former Minister Vidya Sagar Nishad.