Delhi HC upholds Sukh Ram’s conviction

Sukh Ram and two others were convicted on July 5, 2002 under various provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

New Delhi: In a setback to former Telecom
Minister Sukhram, the Delhi High Court on Wednesday upheld his
conviction and three year jail term in the 1996 telecom scam.

While dismissing Sukhram`s appeal against his conviction,
a bench of justices S Ravindra Bhat and G P Mittal also upheld
the conviction of ex-deputy Director-General of the Department
of Telecom (DoT) Runu Ghosh and Hyderabad-based Advanced Radio
Masts (ARM) Managing Director P Rama Rao.

The 1996 telecom scam involved award of a contract to a
Hyderabad firm for supplying telecom equipment to government
at exorbitant rates.

The court also upheld the jail terms of Ghosh and Rao for
two years and three years respectively, awarded by the trial
court to them in July 2002.

The court ordered all three to surrender forthwith before
the trial court to serve the sentence.

"The order on sentence impugned in all these appeals are,
for the above reasons affirmed and left undisturbed. The
appellants shall surrender and serve their sentences; they
shall appear before the trial court for this purpose on
January 5, 2012."

In its 120-page judgement, the bench, however, acquitted
Sukhram of the charge of conspiracy in giving the equipment-
supply contract to ARM. It, however, upheld the conviction of
Ghosh and Rao on charges of conspiracy.

"The appeals of Ghosh and Rao, accordingly fail and are
dismissed; Sukhram`s appeal against conviction for conspiracy
under section 120B IPC succeeds and is allowed," the court

The court, however, upheld Sukhram`s conviction on
charges of misusing his official position for pecuniary gains
in the scam besides committing criminal misconduct.

"Sukhram`s appeal against his conviction under section 13
(1)(d) sub section (ii) and (iii) (abusing official position
for pecuniary gains) read with section 13(2)(criminal
misconduct) fails and is dismissed," it said.

"It is held that the prosecution successfully proved that
Mr Rama Rao and Ms Runu Ghosh were guilty of committing the
offences punishable under sections 120B IPC, read with section
13(1)(d) read with section 13(2)," it added.

The high court upheld Sukhram`s conviction close on the
heels of a trial court holding him guilty in another case
involving supply of telecom cables to the Department of
Telecom during his tenure as telecom minister in mid 90s.

The court had sentenced him to five years imprisonment
for taking Rs three lakhs as bribe to give the lucrative
contract to another private firm in 1996. Later, the high
court had stayed the conviction and granted him bail.

On February 1, the court had reserved its judgements on
the appeals.

Sukh Ram and two others were convicted on July 5, 2002
under various provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The lower court had also imposed a fine of Rs 2 lakh each on

The former minister and others were held guilty for being
part of a criminal conspiracy to defraud the state exchequer
by awarding the contract to ARM which had supplied inferior
equipment at a higher rate to the DoT.

The CBI had sought maximum punishment for Sukh Ram and
others saying their culpability was proved in award of
contract for radio system equipment to ARM by the DoT.

Sukhram, who was the Union Minister of State for
Communications between January 18, 1993 and May 16, 1996, had
along with Runu Ghosh and Rao approved the bid of the
Hyderabad-based private firm even though their rates were
higher than other bidders, the CBI charge sheet had alleged.

The then minister had issued an order on July 16, 1993,
that after the finalisation of every tender and before the
issuance of the purchase order, every file should be put up
before him, it said.

CBI had filed the charge sheet in March 1997, accusing
Sukh Ram and Ghosh of entering into a criminal conspiracy
with Rao.

Subsequent to the registration of various cases, CBI, in
1996, had allegedly seized from Sukhram`s house Rs 3.6 crore
in cash which was concealed in bags and suitcases.


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