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.
"When I have not done any crime, how have I been punished?" a dazed Lalu Prasad asked over video conferencing when he heard the special CBI court pass the sentence. Judge Pravas Kumar Singh retorted: "You can appeal in the higher court."
The court also jailed former chief minister Jagannath Mishra and Janata Dal-United leader Jagdish Sharma among the 37 convicts 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.
the 67-year-old Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) founder leader had hoped for a lighter sentence. His lawyer told the court earlier Thursday that Lalu Prasad had health issues and was a "respectable person".
The CBI court gave its verdict against 37 of the 45 convicts in the fodder scandal, which related to the fraudulent 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.
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.