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A special CBI court on Thursday will pronounce the quantum of punishment on Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, held guilty for illegal withdrawal of millions of rupees from the then undivided Bihar’s animal husbandry department in the early 1990s, in what is popularly known as the fodder scam.

The sentence will be pronounced through videoconferencing. Lalu Prasad is currently in Birsa Munda central jail in Ranchi.

Arguments on the quantum of punishment by defence lawyers Chitranjan Sinha and Pravash Kumar as well as the prosecutor’s counsel BMP Singh began around 11.30 pm. Special Judge Pravas Kumar Singh will pronounce the sentence at 2.30 pm.

On Monday, the court had brought to end one of India’s longest-running corruption cases when it convicted Lalu and 44 others for forgery, cheating, falsification of accounts and conspiracy, among other offences, and offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act.The former Bihar chief minister faces a maximum of seven-year jail.

Special Judge Pravas Kumar Singh will pronounce the quantum of sentence against Lalu Prasad and 37 convicts today. Eight convicts were sentenced on Monday itself.

Those convicted also included former chief minister Jagannath Mishra of the Congress and Janata Dal-United MP Jagdish Sharma, for fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 377 million from the district treasury in Chaibasa, now in Jharkhand after the state’s division in 2000.

The case is related to alleged fraudulent withdrawal of money from the treasury during 1994-95 using forged letters and spurious bills, raised without the actual supply of medicines, instruments, maize and groundnut cake to the husbandry officer of Chaibasa, the CBI said.

The CBI registered the case on March 27, 1996 on the apex court’s direction and took over investigation in the case, earlier registered by Bihar Police at Chaibasa Police Station on February 02, 1996.

Lalu Prasad quit the chief minister’s post in 1997 when his name figured in the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the scam.

Around 54 of the 61 cases were transferred to Jharkhand from Bihar. Different CBI courts have passed judgments in more than 43 cases. Lalu Prasad and Mishra were named as accused in five cases.
(Source: IANS)

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