Sukhram convicted in 1996 telecom case

Last Updated: Friday, November 18, 2011 - 20:11

New Delhi: Former Telecom Minister Sukhram
has been held guilty by a Delhi court of misusing his official
position when he was in the PV Narasimha Rao cabinet and
giving undue favour to a cable supply company in a 15-year-old
case.

Special CBI Judge RP Pandey convicted 84-year-old Sukhram
under various provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act and
section 120 B (criminal conspiracy) of Indian Penal Code and
is likely to pronounce the quantum of sentence on Saturday.

"Accused Sukhram has been held guilty of the offences
punishable under various sections of Prevention of Corruption
Act and IPC and convicted accordingly," the judge said.

The Himachal Pradesh politician, who is out on bail, has
been convicted for the offences which entail a maximum
punishment of seven years imprisonment.

The CBI, in its charge sheet filed in 1998, had accused
Sukhram and another person of allegedly showing undue favour
in supply of excess quantity of cable and acceptance of Rs
three lakh.

In 2009, Sukhram was held guilty of possessing
disproportionate assets worth Rs 4.25 crore.

In 2002, he was awarded a three-year jail term under the
Prevention of Corruption Act in an equipment supply case for
causing a loss of Rs 1.66 crore to the state exchequer. He had
allegedly caused undue benefits to Rama Rao, managing director
of Hyderabad-based Advance Radio Masts.

Convicting Sukhram, the judge said though there was no
direct evidence to prove the existence of conspiracy between
Sukhram and Choudhary, "it is a well-known fact that
conspiracy is hatched in privacy and secrecy, for which direct
evidence would be rarely available."

"The facts and circumstances show that because of
proximity of co-accused DS Choudhary (since expired) with
Sukh Ram, M/s HTL was his most favoured vendor," it said.

The court also refused to accept the argument of defence
counsel that after the death of co-accused Choudhary, Sukhram
cannot be convicted for conspiracy.

"His (Sukhram counsel`s) submission is without basis. It
is suffice to say that death of an accused only abates the
case against him which was pending but it does not mitigate
the offence alleged to have been committed by him in concert
with his co-accused," the judge said.

The court noted that CBI had conducted search at the
Himachal Pradesh residence of Sukhram from where it had
recovered over Rs 1.16 crore.

The court said the note prepared by an official of
the department on October 8, 1995 had mentioned the
"precarious" position of HTL and another firm and it was
proposed not to award it the contract to supply cables in
excess of its ability.

But, despite that Sukhram had passed an order to give the
contract to HTL for supplying additional cables, it added.

The court noted that Sukhram again on May 8, 1996 gave a
contract to HTL for supplying even more cables overruling a
suggestion against it. The suggestion was duly endorsed by the
Telecom Commission.

"The reason for such overruling, as given by Sukhram in
his note, was that any delay in placing the order will affect
the timely supply of this important item in time i.e. before
the onset of monsoon," the court pointed out.

But it rejected the logic saying "the reason given by him
was so unreasonable that no prudent person would agree with
it. Such an unreasonable order was not at all possible without
connivance of Choudhary with Sukhram."

The court held Sukhram guilty in the corruption case,
dismissing his another argument that the sanction to prosecute
him was not taken in a proper manner.

Earlier in 2009, Sukhram had been held guilty of owning
disproportionate assets worth Rs 4.25 crore.

In 2002, he was sentenced to three years in jail in
another corruption case causing a loss of Rs 1.66 crore to
public exchequer in award of a contract to a Hyderabad-based
firm, Advance Radio Masts for supplying some equipment to the
government in collusion with the firm Managing Director Rama
Rao. Sukhram is currently on out on bail.

PTI



First Published: Friday, November 18, 2011 - 16:37

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