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Hope glimmered for Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Lalu Prasad Yadav, in jail after his conviction in the fodder scam cases, with the Supreme Court agreeing on Friday to consider his bail plea before the first phase of Lok Sabha elections kicks off on April 11.

Admitting his petition, a bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna sought the response of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) within two weeks.

Arguing for the former Bihar chief minister, senior advocate Kapil Sibal said the 70-year-old politician had served half the sentence in the three cases, and there was no possibility of his appeals being disposed of in the near future. Besides, after going under the knife for an aortic valve replacement in 2014. Lalu was complaining of serious health issues, he said.

But Lalu’s petition, filed by advocate Jayant Mohan, cited the real reason why he is seeking bail. “The Lok Sabha elections are to take place… the presence of the petitioner is essential for the party in view of requirements such as preparation and strategisation for, and conduct of, the elections,” the petition said.

The plea for his release on bail further stated, “The presence of the president of the RJD is absolutely essential for the conduct of free and fair elections.”

Earlier, Lalu had approached the Jharkhand High Court seeking suspension of his sentence and grant of bail, but failed to get any relief. The HC dismissed his petition on January 10, forcing him to appeal the apex court.

Lalu has so far been convicted in three cases where the evidence against him is common. He was punished with prison terms of three-and-a-half years in one case, 14 years (two concurrent sentences of seven years) in another, and five years in the third case.

He has served 22 months in the first case, 20 months in the second and 13 months in the third case.

State-graft

  • Lalu Prasad has been convicted of conspiracy in misappropriating funds from the state treasury while he was chief minister of Bihar.
  • Besides offences under the Indian Penal Code, he is also convicted of corruption under the Prevention of Corruption Act

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