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Apex court to hear Lalu bail petition

- Ex-CM rules out doubt on absconding

New Delhi, Nov. 25: The bail plea of RJD chief Lalu Prasad, recently sentenced to five years’ rigorous imprisonment in the fodder scam, will come up for hearing in the Supreme Court on Friday.

A bench of Chief Justice P. Sathasivam, Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai and Justice Ranjan Gogoi today agreed to take up Lalu’s plea for consideration after senior counsel P.H. Parekh, appearing for the petitioner, urged the court to take it up for early hearing.

A special CBI court had on September 30 convicted Lalu and 44 others for embezzlement from the Chaibasa treasury when Lalu was heading the RJD government. On account of his conviction and five-year sentence, Lalu, who was a sitting MP till September 30, has lost his membership of the House.

In his application, Lalu pleaded that he be granted bail, as he had been in jail before in connection with the scam for over 10 months and there was no question of his absconding from law. The 10 months included his pre-conviction period also. The RJD chief said the trial court and Jharkhand High Court rejected his bail plea on erroneous grounds though some other accused were given bail.

He cited the case of his co-accused, then minister for animal husbandry Vidya Sagar Nishad, who was sentenced to three years and granted bail by the trial court. Another co-accused, R.K. Rana, sentenced to five years, too, got bail.

In his application, Lalu said the high court gave no reason for rejecting his bail plea. He went on to say he had been treated differently.

“When granted bail earlier, the petitioner had fully cooperated with the investigation during the trial and appeared before the court regularly. That the petitioner was the chief minister of the state of Bihar, the Union railway minister and is also the leader of a political party in the country and until the date of his conviction in the present case a sitting Member of Parliament, hence he is not likely to abscond from the country,” Lalu said in his application.

He also said his conviction was based on “hearsay evidence” which, according to him, was “inadmissible.”