Lalu Prasad seeks bail to lead the RJD charge in Lok Sabha polls, court says no

Bedanti Saran
Lalu Prasad Yadav has been in custody since December 23, 2017, after his conviction in three different cases related to the fodder scam one after another. Prasad had moved the Jharkhand high court seeking bail in all the cases.

Jharkhand high court on Thursday declined bail to RJD chief Lalu Prasad who had knocked at the court’s door, saying his party required his presence for the preparations in the run-up to the Lok Sabha election this year, besides citing health issues.

The Rashtriya Janata Dal leader has been in custody since December 23, 2017, after his conviction in three different cases related to the fodder scam one after another. Prasad had moved the Jharkhand high court seeking bail in all the cases.

He is currently undergoing treatment at the Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) state capital Ranchi.

The bench of justice Aparesh Kumar Singh rejected Prasad’s bail petitions, saying it did not find any merit in his pleadings. The bench on January 4 had reserved its order after hearing Prasad’s lawyer Kapil Sibal and the Central Bureau of Investigation’s (CBI’s) counsel Rajiv Sinha.

“We will now move to the Supreme Court for bail,” Prasad’s Ranchi-based lawyer Prabhat Kumar said.

Prasad, in his bail petitions, had said that being the RJD’s national president, he was required to make preparations for the general elections as the new Lok Sabha ought to be constituted by June this year.

He argued he was the only authorised person to select candidates for different parliamentary constituencies. He stated that without his signature, the Election Commission would not allocate symbols to the candidates.

Sibal had contended that Prasad had recently been convicted on March 19 in the case related to fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 3.76 crore from Dumka treasury but in the same case, five accused politicians were acquitted including former animal husbandry department (AHD) minister Vidya Sagar Nishad. He had argued how Prasad was involved in conspiracy and corruption, if other politicians were acquitted.

Sibal had also pointed out Prasad’s ill health condition as one of the grounds for granting him bail. He said that the septuagenarian former Bihar chief minister was suffering from various diseases and had undergone multiple surgeries. He had become physically weak, Sibal said.

Opposing Prasad’s bail pleadings, assistant solicitor general and CBI’s counsel Sinha had argued there was nothing new in his bail petitions except for the ground taken by him for poll preparations. He said that the high court’s same bench in March this year had considered all arguments, which Prasad has been raising now, and rejected his bail petition.