A CBI court has sentenced RJD MP Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav and former Independent MLA Rajan Tiwari to life imprisonment for the CPI(M) MLA Ajit Sarkar's murder case, all the three other accused in the case were also present in the court when the judgement was pronounced.
Special CBI Judge B M Srivastava, who had on 4th February last reserved his judgement after hearing final arguments on behalf of the prosecution and the defence, also imposed fines of Rs 10,000 each on them.
All the three accused in the case -- Yadav, Tiwari and Anil Yadav, a known criminal, were present in the court when the judgement was pronounced.
Pappu Yadav was brought here this morning from Tihar jail in Delhi in compliance with the directive of the court. Tiwari and Anil Yadav are lodged in the Beur Central Jail in Patna.
The trial that started way back in 2nd August, 2002 with the commencement of examination of prosecution witnesses, had concluded following a Patna High Court direction of January 10 this year for wrapping it up by 31st January.
The deadline was later extended by a fortnight by the High Court.
Sarkar, the firebrand CPI-M MLA, who had a running feud with Pappu Yadav over issues related to farm labourers, was gunned down along with driver Harendra Sharma and party worker Ashfaqur Rehman, at Subhash Nagar in Purnia town on 14th June, 1998.
The CBI had chargesheeted five persons, including Pappu Yadav, former Independent MLA from Govindganj Rajan Tiwari, Anil Yadav, Harish Chaudhary and Amar Yadav on 10th May, 1999 on the basis of the statement of Tiwari, who was arrested by Delhi Police in a criminal case on 12th February that year.
The court while taking cognisance of the chargesheet, had proclaimed forty-year-old Pappu, Anil Yadav, Harish Chaudhary and Amar Yadav as absconders. Pappu Yadav was later arrested on 24th May, 1999 in connection with the Ajit Sarkar murder case.
The special CBI court had framed charges against Pappu and Anil besides, Rajan Tiwari on 19th August, 2000 under Sections 302 (murder) and 120 (b) (criminal conspiracy) of IPC and Section 27 of Arms Act. Since Harish Chaudhary and Amar Yadav were absconding, the court could not frame charges against them along with the three others. Chaudhary and Amar Yadav were arrested later in another criminal case.
The CBI court is holding the trial against them separately and today's judgement did not cover the two.
While 61 witnesses were presented by the prosecution, 23 of whom later turned hostile, 27 deposed on behalf of the defence.
Pappu Yadav, who was brought to the courtroom on a wheelchair due to a festering wound in his leg, broke down after being handed down the punishment and requested the judge to show "leniency".
"I have been through severe mental and physical torture in jail and even had to spend time in a mental asylum. Please show leniency and commute my punishment," Yadav was said to have requested the judge in the courtroom, which was barred to the media.
"You always have the option of moving the superior court for relief," the judge replied.
Pappu Yadav's wife and Lok Sabha member from Saharsa Ranjita Ranjan was not present in the court when the sentence was pronounced. One of his aides said she was away in Delhi.
Yadav, an underworld-don-turned-politician made his maiden entry into the Lok Sabha from Purnia in 1995 as an independent and retained the seat in 1996 and 1999. He, however, lost to BJP's Jaikrishna Mandal in 1998.
After being humbled by BJP's Uday Singh, younger brother of high-profile former IAS officer N K Singh, on the ticket of Ramvilas Paswan's Lok Janshakti Party in 2004, he began flirting with Lalu Prasad's RJD.
After Lalu won both Madhepura and Chapra LS seats in the 2004 general election and chose to retain the latter, Pappu was rewarded with a ticket from Madhepura.