Supreme Court grants bail to Lalu Prasad

Lalu YadavRJD leader Rabri Devi distributes sweets outside Birsa Munda Central Jail in Ranchi after her husband and party chief Lalu Prasad was granted bail on Friday. PTI

After spending two months behind bars following his conviction in a fodder scam case, RJD chief Lalu Prasad was granted bail by the Supreme Court Friday, on the ground of parity with other convicts.

A Bench of Chief Justice of India P Sathasivam and Justice Ranjan Gogoi allowed the bail plea after underlining that more than two dozens similarly-placed convicts had been released on bail by the Patna High Court.

The court pointed out that the former Bihar CM had spent almost a year of his five-year sentence during the pendency of the trial. The Bench left it to the trial court to decide the bail bonds, sureties and other such conditions to be imposed on the former Member of Parliament. The CBI, which had in its counter affidavit opposed Lalu's bail, chose not to counter his plea during the court proceeding. Lalu's release will certainly lift the morale of his party, which faced the risk of being perceived as leaderless just months away from the LS polls.

Lalu, who lost his membership of Parliament after being convicted, had submitted that out of the 44 persons convicted along with him in the case, 37 have been granted bail and no one's, except his bail plea has been rejected. Appearing for Lalu, senior advocate Ram Jethmalani had contended that the RJD chief had spent 12 months behind bars and that the Jharkhand High Court, before which his appeal was currently pending, will also take at least seven to eight years to decide the case.

In its response, CBI had said no new facts or circumstances had emerged post his conviction that could entitle him for bail and that his petition seeking bail was "bereft of merit and liable to be rejected." CBI also said that Lalu could not seek bail on parity with other convicts who were released on bail. Lalu, another former Bihar CM Jagannath Mishra and 43 others were on September 30 convicted by a special CBI court in the fodder scam case involving fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 37.7 crore from Chaibasa Treasury during the Lalu-led RJD regime.

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