The special CBI court in Ranchi on Monday preferred to reserve judgment on the period of imprisonment to the high-profile accused, including Rashtriya Janta Dal supremo and former CM of Bihar, Lalu Prasad Yadav, former CM Jagannath Mishra and JDU MP from Jehanabad, Jagdish Sharma, while convicting all 45 accused in the multi-crore fodder scam case.
The court contended that the 475-page judgment divided into seven chapters could not be photocopied for want of adequate pace of photocopy machines and therefore it was unable to decide on the quantum of sentence. It will be decided on October 3.
Whatever the reason, the court’s decision has dealt a major blow to Lalu. Unless the final judgment is pronounced, Lalu can neither move the higher court in appeal nor can he pray for bail. He will have to remain in judicial custody till the sentencing. The date slated for the pronouncement of sentencing will keep him behind bars for at least a fortnight.
If a sentence of five years or above imprisonment is awarded to Lalu, the set provisions do not allow him to obtain bail. As such, he will be left with no option except to challenge the judgment in a higher court. Yadav’s son Tejashwi said Lalu will challenge the decision of the CBI court in the higher court. Significantly, the next date of the court ensures that he cannot have respite forthwith. If the final judgment is pronounced on October 3, the Jharkhand high court is not available to entertain the appeal. The HC will remain closed from October 4 for about 15 days on account of Durga Puja.
Consequently, Lalu cannot move the HC and will have to be in jail for 15 days.
Moreover, if the deposition by the CBI in court on September 17 is any yardstick to go by, the judgment of the CBI court will be quashed in the higher court. As per Yadav’s counsel Surendra Singh, the CBI court order is liable to be quashed in the HC. He claimed that there was no evidence of direct involvement of Yadav in the scam.