In a big relief to ailing Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) president Lalu Prasad, Delhi's Patiala House Court on Thursday granted him interim bail in two Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) scam cases. Hearing the interim bail plea filed by the RJD chief, special judge Arun Bharadwaj posted the matter for the next hearing on January 19, 2019. Lalu Yadav, who is currently lodged in Ranchi jail in the fodder scam case, was produced before the court via video conferencing as his physical presence was not possible due to ill health. Earlier during the previous hearing of the case on November 19, the court had ordered Lalu to appear before the court through video conferencing after his lawyer told the court that he was unable to appear before the court due to poor health.
The court had directed the CBI and the ED to make necessary arrangements and ensure Lalu's presence. Yadav to appear through video conferencing and had asked the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate to make all arrangements to ensure his presence either from hospital or jail. Special Judge Arun Bharadwaj had issued the directive after he was told that Yadav was unable to appear before the court due to ill-health.
The Delhi court also directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to file their response on Lalu's plea seeking regular bail in both the cases. The IRCTC scam case pertains to alleged irregularities in granting operational contracts of two IRCTC hotels to a private firm in 2005 when Lalu was the Union railways minister. He had allegedly received a three-acre plot worth Rs 45 crore through a shell company owned by the wife of an RJD MP in exchange for the deal.
Both ED and the CBI had filed separate cases against Lalu, his wife Rabri Devi and son Tejashwi Yadav. The court had already granted regular bail to Rabri and Tejashwi in the case filed by the CBI, while they are on interim bail in the money laundering case filed by the ED. With Lalu, the interim bail of his wife Rabri and son Tejashwi has also be extended till January 19 when the matter will be heard again in the court.