New Delhi: A sacked Army personnel has been sentenced to three years in jail by a Delhi court for trying to take seven persons to Germany in guise of members of an official band participating in the 2007 Berlin Music Festival.
Special CBI Judge Manoj Jain awarded jail term to Lance Naik Suresh Babu after holding him guilty of hatching a criminal conspiracy and committing cheating and forgery by furnishing incorrect particulars to the Ministry of External Affairs to obtain passports for them.
The court also held him guilty of committing various offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, saying "he tried to smash and smear the image of Army."
The court also awarded three-year jail term to Suresh`s accomplices David A Johnson and Nagarajan Israel Raja with whom he had conspired to get fake passport in violation of Section 12 of Indian Passport Act for five Punjab natives.
"As far as convict Suresh Babu is concerned, he has tried to smash and smear the good image of Army. He was the one who had got the official passports prepared and received such official passports from MEA and therefore, it was his primary duty to hand over these official passports to the Army authority.
"However, his intention was other than bonafide and he wanted to send private persons abroad through such official passports," the court said, while imposing a fine of Rs 56,000 on Suresh Babu, David and Nagarajan.
The court, however, let off Rajender Singh, Gurdev Singh, Varinder Singh and Gurjant Singh on the period of sentence they have already undergone during the trial. But a fine of Rs 21,000 was imposed on all the four, who were also convicted for cheating, forgery and under section 12 of Indian Passport Act.
The case against Suresh Babu was lodged after five other
accused - Nagarajan, Rajender, Gurdev, Varinder and Gurjant were apprehended by immigration authorities at the IGI Airport here on November 1, 2007, when they were allegedly trying to fly abroad on basis of forged official passports.
They were carrying official white passports issued to the Army Headquarters Band for a performance in Germany.
The court, however, acquitted Navneet Singh who had given Suresh Babu Rs 11.50 lakhs for making arrangement for sending three persons to Germany, after it could not find any evidence against him.
"However, as far as convict Nagarajan is concerned, not only did he try to travel on forged official passport but was also a key player in the larger conspiracy.
"Convict David is found to be the apparent beneficiary as the money had been transferred in his bank account and he was also instrumental in booking accommodation," the court said.
The agency had alleged that Babu, entrusted with the task to deal with official passports in respect of the scheduled visit of Indian Army Band to Germany, had hatched a criminal conspiracy with accused during his posting as lance naik in Directorate of Ceremonial and Welfare, New Delhi.
A total 52 Army officials were nominated to participate in the 13th Berlin Music Festival in Germany. The CBI had alleged in the charge sheet that Babu affixed passports of some private persons and forged signatures of Colonel Satinder Singh to obtain the passports.