The CBI court in Ranchi sentenced RJD chief Lalu Prasad to five years’ imprisonment in a 17-year-old fodder scam case, making hm the second member of Parliament to be disqualified in line with the recent Supreme Court ruling on convicted legislators, sentenced to more than two years in prison. Rasheed Masood, Rajya Sabha MP and special member of Congress working committee, who was sentenced to four years imprisonment for fraud, forgery and corruption in the case related to illegal granting of admission to medical seats, is the first legislator to lose membership in the line with the SC order.The court also imposed a fine of Rs. 25 Lakh on Lalu. In case of default in payment, he will have to serve six months extra. Former Bihar Chief Minister Jagannath Mishra and JD(U) MP Jagdish Sharma were awarded four-year jail terms each and penalty of Rs. 2 lakh and Rs. 5 lakh respectively.
In accordance with Supreme Court order which removed immunity for convicted lawmakers, the former Bihar cheif minister will effectively be out of the electoral arena for 11 years, a prospect that will hit the RJD hard in Bihar as well as nationally. The SC has ruled a legislator will remain disqualified for a further six years from the date of release unless a higher court overturns both the conviction and sentencing. There could, however, still be hope for Lalu and the RJD because there is an escape route. The SC has said a convicted person can contest an election if he/she conviction and sentencing – both stayed at the superior court.
THE Chaibasa treasury case is just one of the many in the R 950 crore animal husbandry department scam – commonly known as the fodder scam – in united Bihar (prior to Jharkhand formation).
The RJD had hoped the government’s ordinance designed to protect convicted lawmakers would come to the party chief’s aid. The government, however, withdrew the controversial ordinance on 2 October, days after congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi trashed it as “complete nonsense” and one that should be “torn up and thrown away”.