1996 telecom scam: Sukhram gets 5 years jail

1996 telecom scam: Sukhram gets 5 years jail New Delhi: Former Telecom Minister Sukh Ram, who was convicted in two corruption cases but was still free, was on Saturday awarded five years imprisonment by a Delhi court in a 1996 corruption case, after which he was arrested and taken to Tihar jail.

86-year-old Sukh Ram, who had held the Telecom portfolio in P V Narasimha Rao's cabinet and was convicted on Thursday in a cable contract case for taking Rs 3 lakh bribe, was handed out five years jail term by Special CBI judge R P Pandey who also imposed a fine of Rs four lakh on him.

To add to his humiliation, a person attacked the veteran politician from Himachal Pradesh minutes after his arrest was ordered by the court.

"The octogenarian convict has already reaped the dividend of a long-drawn process of law and as despite having been convicted in two other corruption cases, he is enjoying freedom, which is passing a wrong message to the public at large and strengthen the popular belief that one can earn money by corrupt means and enjoy its fruits by spending some portion of it," the court said.

The non-arrest of Sukh Ram, despite his convictions in two cases, and the plea of protracted trial did not get him any relief as the court took an adverse view of the arguments, saying they are rather aggravating circumstances which warranted his forthwith arrest.

Besides the present case, Sukh Ram was awarded a three-year jail term in 2002 in a case lodged under the Prevention of Corruption Act relatinng to equipment supply that resulted in a loss of Rs 1.66 crore to the state exchequer.

He was convicted and sentenced to three years jail in 2009 for possessing disproportionate assets worth Rs 4.25 crore. He, however, remained out of jail after being granted statutory bail in both the cases.

The court, in its 11-page order on the quantum of sentence, said though the advanced age of Sukh Ram was a factor but other aggravating circumstances such as his remaining out of jail cannot be overlooked as it would send a wrong message to the society.

"I have reached an opinion that while the age of the convict is certainly a mitigating factor, his previous conviction in two other corruption cases is an aggravating circumstance which has to be considered while fixing the quantum of sentence.

"Sukhram was holding a very high position of respect and trust as he was a Member of Parliament and Minister of State for Communication when he committed the offence of criminal conspiracy and corruption. The corrupt public servant is a menace to the society and brings the society and his office into disrepute," it said.