Ranchi: Former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad was Thursday sentenced to five years in prison and fined Rs.25 lakh for his involvement in the fodder scam that surfaced 17 years ago.
The sentencing took away Lalu Prasad's membership of the Lok Sabha, putting a question mark on the future of one of the country's best known politicians.
The special CBI court of Pravas Kumar Singh also jailed former chief minister Jagannath Mishra and Janata Dal-United leader Jagdish Sharma for four years each.
But while Mishra, who was admitted to a hospital Wednesday after an apparent fall in the bathroom, was fined Rs.2 lakh, Sharma was fined Rs.5 lakh.
According to prison sources, Lalu Prasad, 67, who founded the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) in 1997, looked dazed as he heard the sentence over video conference facility at the Birsa Munda Central Jail.
Earlier, Lalu Prasad's lawyer Surender Singh had pleaded for a lenient sentence, citing his age and health issues. He said that Lalu Prasad was a "respectable person" and held a "high position in society".
The CBI court gave its verdict against 37 of the 45 convicts in the fodder scandal, which related to the fradulent withdrawal of Rs.37.70 crore from the Chaibasa district treasury when Bihar was an undivided state.
The district became a part of Jharkhand after it was formed in 2000.
One of the convicts, former IAS officer K. Arumugam, who has steadfastly maintained that he has been falsely implicated in the case, was jailed for four years.
A former RJD legislator, R.K. Rana, got five years' jail and was fined Rs.30 lakh.
A man who had supplied fodder to the Bihar government's animal husbandry department was asked to cough up Rs.1.5 crore -- the maximum fine imposed on anyone in the case.
On Sep 30, the CBI court had held all 45 accused guilty. It sentenced eight of them to three years in prison and slapped them with fines up to Rs.50 lakh.
With Thursday's sentencing, Lalu Prasad becomes the second politician this week to lose membership of parliament in line with a Supreme Court ruling.