- Court denies Lalu Yadav's request for more visitors
- "This power is vested in the legislature", said judge
- Mr Yadav was convicted last month in fodder scam case
"The jailor says that only 3 people can meet me in a week... Please look into this," Lalu Yadav, 69, pleaded in the court on Wednesday. Then he seemed to remind the judge of his powers: "You have immense power... You can make anyone bend".
"But this power is vested in the legislature", reasoned Judge Shiv Pal Singh, who has indulged the former Chief Minister during hearings over the last fortnight even if his decisions have disappointed Lalu Yadav. The judge had convicted Lalu Yadav in one fodder scam case last month and sentenced him to 3.5 years. Mr Yadav was in his court on Wednesday in connection with another fodder scam case.
This is the eighth time that Lalu Yadav is in a jail. But this is the first time that jail authorities are throwing the rulebook at him. The BJP's Raghubar Das government in Jharkhand has declined his requests for special treatment, a sharp contrast from 2013 when Lalu Yadav's RJD was a partner in the state government.
Not one to take no for an answer if he can help it, Lalu Yadav gave it another shot on Wednesday. This time, seeking leniency because the Makar Sankranti festival was around the corner, on Sunday. "We celebrate it in a grand way... by eating dahi churra," Lalu Yadav said, trying to be his persuasive best.
The judge ignored the reference to a grand celebrations but promised to make sure that Lalu Yadav didn't miss the snack made of curd and flattened rice.
"I will get dahi chura arranged in jail," the judge told him, a faint smile on his face.
Lalu Yadav persisted, reminding the judge that he had been at his best behaviour and not spoken a word when the court sentenced him to 3.5 years in jail. This, Mr Yadav added, was much more than the 3 years that he should have got.
"I had told you sir that I am a lawyer and registered with the Supreme Court and High Court and I did not get any benefit of leniency in quantum as promised by you', Lalu Yadav said, grudgingly.
"Yes.... You did not say anything," the judge acknowledged, but pointed that his supporters' body language nevertheless appeared to be pretty aggressive. About sentencing him to court for longer than he expected despite being a lawyer, judge Shiv Pal Singh told him, again in a lighter vein that he hadn't backed up his claim with his registration certificate.
"You did not give the registration number. That is why I gave you three and a half years," he said, pointing how he had proven everyone - who had either predicted a jail term of three years or five years - wrong.
The judge also pointedly told Lalu Yadav that he had taken note of media reports that two of his aides had got themselves arrested so that they could be around at Ranchi's jail to help Lalu Yadav. The Bihar politician promptly insisted that it was a creation of media.