The Supreme Court today denied bail to Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Yadav, who is serving jail time after being convicted in fodder scam cases. The CBI had argued that he would immediately take to political work if he was given bail.
The Bihar leader's lawyer, Kapil Sibal, said Lalu Yadav was given a 14-year sentence and not 25 years, and he is not "running away".
To this, Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi replied, "Whether it is 25 years or 14, the High Court will decide. We can ask the High Court to expedite the cases against politicians." The court told Lalu Yadav he has so far served only 24 months against his 25-year conviction.
Mr Sibal asked what could be the danger if Lalu Yadav was released on bail, to which the court replied, "There is no danger, except you are convicted. We don't think we can grant bail. Petition dismissed."
The Central Bureau of Investigation on Tuesday had said Lalu Yadav must not be allowed any reprieve to pursue his political activities.
In an affidavit to the Supreme Court, the CBI said the Bihar politician's "nefarious act" as chief minister of a state shook the conscience of the entire nation, and he was "misleading the court by asking for bail on medical grounds" as he wanted to play a part in the Lok Sabha elections.
It added that the former Bihar chief minister "is conducting political activities from a special ward of a hospital."
For the first time since 1977 when Lalu Yadav contested his first elections and became a parliamentarian from Saran, he won't be campaigning this time. He also didn't contest the 2014 national election and in 2015 he was barred from fighting any election after conviction in another fodder scam case.
Lalu Yadav, convicted in 2017 in yet another fodder scam case, has been at a hospital in Ranchi for much of his sentence so far. He was held guilty of a multi-million-rupee scam involving the embezzlement of government funds meant for cattle fodder in the 1990s when he was chief minister of undivided Bihar.
The CBI told the court that the leader hasn't served his jail term but has been staying in a special ward of a hospital.
Last year, Lalu Yadav was granted six weeks' provisional bail. He was restrained from taking part in any public function or political activity and was also barred from interacting with the media during that time.
Later, he asked for another break from prison on health grounds, claiming he needed surgery. A Jharkhand court refused and ordered him back to jail.
Lalu Yadav's absence is a setback for the RJD in poll season even though his younger son Tejashwi Yadav has proved himself upto the task of leading the party in his father's absence.