Lalu gets five years in jail, his son some ambition

FrontTej Pratap (centre), son of Lalu and Rabri, with supporters at the family’s Patna home Thursday. Prashant Ravi

A special CBI court on Thursday sentenced RJD chief and former Bihar Chief Minister Lalu Prasad to five years' rigorous imprisonment in a 17-year-old fodder scam case, thus setting off the process for his disqualification as an MP. Former Chief Minister Jagannath Mishra and JD(U) MP Jagdish Sharma were both given four years rigorous imprisonment each.

"In this case, two of the hon'ble members of parliament, namely Dr Jagdish Sharma... and Sri Lalu Prasad have been convicted by the court for the offences under Prevention of Corruption Act as well as for criminal conspiracy... The CBI is directed to immediately inform the hon'ble Speaker of the Lok Sabha... regarding the conviction," said the court. Sharma too stands to lose his Lok Sabha seat.

Special Judge Pravas Kumar Singh also imposed fines of Rs 25 lakh on Lalu Prasad, Rs 5 lakh on Jagdish Sharma and Rs 2 lakh on Jagannath Mishra.

Lalu was convicted with 44 others on September 30. In Patna, Lalu's wife Rabri Devi met party leaders, while their son Tej Pratap Yadav met leaders of the RJD's youth wing. "Tej has asked us to take heart, re-group and start visiting villages to seek the people's support," said one of them.

In its 568-page order, the court said: "The availing of hospitality and pecuniary gains by these politicians and executives finally and decisively implicates them... When corruption is sought to be eliminated from the polity, all possible stringent measures are to be adopted within the bounds of law. One such measure is to provide condign punishment."

The defence argued that the accused have been suffering for the last 17 years, during which they have aged, and giving them long jail terms will be tantamount to capital punishment.

"...in criminal justice system, it may take years for final conclusion of the trial. It is true that the accused has suffered ordeals of the trial, but how can one forget the agony of the society and the public who was waiting for the result and the final outcome of the trial," said the court.

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