SC grants bail to Lalu Prasad in fodder scam case

The Supreme Court on Friday granted bail to Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav in connection with the fodder scam case, giving a big respite to the Bihar strongman and his party.

A bench of the apex court comprising Chief Justice P Sathasivam and Justice Ranjan Gogoi granted bail to Laloo Prasad on a plea challenging the order of the Jharkhand high court, which had dismissed Laloo's bail plea.

The SC bench, however, left a decision on the bail bonds, sureties and other conditions of the bail to the trial court.

The SC had issued notice to the CBI after senior counsel Ram Jethmalani told the court that 44 people were convicted in the case, of whom 37 have already been granted bail and bail applications of six others are under consideration. The court had fixed 13 December as the date for hearing the bail plea.

Lalu's lawyer said the RJD chief had already spent enough time in jail and since the probe was already over, he would not be in a position to influence the investigation now.

CBI, which is the prosecuting agency in the case, did not oppose Laloo's bail plea.

A special CBI court in Jharkhand had, on 30 September, convicted Lalu, another former Bihar chief minister Jagannath Mishra and 43 others, in the fodder scam case involving fraudulent withdrawal of Rs37.7 crore from the government treasury in Chaibasa, Bihar, during the RJD regime.

The fodder scam was unearthed in 1996 when Lalu was chief minister.

The siphoning of funds from the treasury, involving many elected representatives and government officials of Bihar state, continued for several years.

Laloo has already spent two months in jail after the 30 September conviction that disqualified him from the Lok Sabha and banned him from contesting elections for six years.

Laloo Prasd's wife and one-time chief minister of Bihar Rabri Devi welcomed the Supreme Court verdict and said his conviction wouldn't affect the party's performance in the Lok Sabha elections in 2014.

"He cannot contest elections but he can lead the party to victory. We have full faith in the judiciary," Rabri Devi told CNN-IBN shortly after the court announcement.