Sukhram convicted in 1996 telecom case
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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.


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

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