NEW DELHI: A Delhi Court on Thursday (July 30, 2020) awarded a 4-year jail term to former Samata Party president Jaya Jaitley and two others in a 20-year-old corruption case related to a purported defence deal.
Special CBI judge Virender Bhat had convicted Jaitly, her former party colleague Gopal Pacherwal and Major General (retired) SP Murgai and held them guilty of corruption and criminal conspiracy on July 26.
The three were held guilty of corruption and criminal conspiracy in the purported purchase of hand-held thermal imagers. The court, in an on-camera proceeding, also imposed a fine of Rs 1 lakh each on all three convicts and directed them to surrender before it till 5 PM today.
The case stemmed out of a sting operation ‘Operation Westend’ aired by news portal tehelka.com in January 2001.
The sting, ''Operation Westend'', aired by Tehelka showed the accused purportedly accepting a bribe from reporters of the portal, who posed as representatives of a fictitious company, for supply orders for hand-held thermal imagers from the Indian Army.
The meetings took place in the official residence of the then defence minister George Fernandes under the BJP-led NDA government.
In its July 21 order, the court observed that while Jaitly accepted illegal gratification of Rs 2 lakh from Mathew Samuel, a representative of the fictitious company Westend International, Murgai received Rs 20,000.
The three accused, along with Surender Kumar Surekha who later turned an approver, were a party to the criminal conspiracy, the court held.
All the three accused - Jaitly, Pacherwal and Murgai - were convicted of the offence of conspiracy (Section 120-B IPC) read with Section 9 (Taking gratification, for the exercise of personal influence with public servant) of Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act.
The court held that "from the evidence lead by the prosecution it is proved beyond doubt that in the meeting in the hotel room on December 25, 2000, Surekha and Murgai assured their assistance to Samuel in procuring letter of evaluation for the product of his company from the Ministry of Defence and also to arrange a meeting between him and accused Jaya Jaitly who would provide political cover to them in this regard."
The court observed that "such kind of agreement was clearly tantamount to the offence of conspiracy". Jaitly, who was Fernandes' close aide, resigned as Samata Party chief following the graft allegations.
The chargesheet against the three was filed in 2006 and the charges were framed in 2012.