The special CBI judge in Jharkhand's capital Ranchi had last month convicted Lalu Yadav and 15 others for embezzlement of over Rs 85 lakh in government funds back in the 1990s and had scheduled the hearings to decide their jail sentence this week.
On Thursday, it turned out that Lalu Yadav would have to wait his turn. Because the judge decided to hear the arguments in an alphabetical order. Lalu Yadav was sixth in this list and his turn would come on Friday afternoon.
But he still slipped in a prayer or two, pleading to be let off the hook.
The judge responded that he had received quite a few phone calls from "his well-wishers too" and he too didn't know the quantum of sentence that would be delivered. "But don't worry, I will follow the law", he said.
Lalu Yadav, 69, also wanted the judge to give his ruling quickly because "it is very cold here", a reference to his cell at the Birsa Munda jail.
At another point when the judge remarked that he should have acted promptly against the scamsters in the scam - Lalu Yadav is accused of stalling the probe and letting officers continue - and made a reference to the contempt notice against RJD leaders, the former chief minister didn't back down.
Lalu Yadav told the court in his characteristic style that he too was a trained lawyer, registered to practise in the high court and Supreme Court. "Then why don't you do a 2-3 month course in jail so that you continue to inspire other prisoners," the judge shot back, in a lighter vein.
"But I already completed my studies at college," Lalu Yadav said.
In between, the court, however, made it clear that it had taken serious note of three RJD leaders and the Congress' Manish Tewari for imputing motives for the guilty verdict he had pronounced. If someone was dissatisfied with the verdict, they should approach the higher courts, not impute motives along caste lines, the court said. The judge made it clear that he had no intention to give anyone relief at this stage, prompting Lalu Yadav to request him to cool down.