The Jharkhand High Court on Friday adjourned hearing on bail plea moved by RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav in connection with a fodder scam case in which the Bihar politician was convicted on corruption charges and sentenced to five years of imprisonment in January 2018.
The bench comprising justice Aparesh Kumar Singh adjourned the hearing and fixed next date on September 11 after the CBI informed that its counsel assistant solicitor general Rajiv Sinha was unwell.
Prasad, who has been undergoing treatment in custody at Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) in Ranchi, moved the bail application on the ground that he had already completed half of the sentence in the aforesaid case related to fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 33.13 crore from Chaibasa treasury over fictitious spends on fodder and other expenses for cattle.
Prasad had suffered a major jolt in the fodder scam case on September 30, 2013, when a trial court in Ranchi held him guilty in the first of six cases against him. The conviction got him five years in prison, disqualification from the Parliament and a ban on contesting elections. He was given bail by the Supreme Court in December that year.
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The former Bihar chief minister’s trouble renewed again after December 23, 2017, when he was convicted in three other fodder scam cases in quick successions. Since then, he has been in jail.
Of these three cases, he had secured bail in one of them last year on the ground that he had served half of the imprisonment awarded to him.
“In the second case, Prasad had completed half of the 5-year sentence in June this year. We, therefore, applied for aforesaid bail in July but it was heard for the first time on Friday,” said Prasad’s lawyer Prabhat Kumar.
He added that another bail application in the third case would likely be filed in November this year.
After spending the initial two months – from December 2017 to February 2018 – in Birsa Munda Central Jail in Ranchi, Prasad had developed health complications in March 2018 and was moved to a hospital. Since then, he never returned to jail.
After a steep surge in Covid-19 cases in August, Prasad was moved from RIMS paying ward to the hospital’s director’s bungalow early this month.