Delhi HC stays 4-year jail term given to ex-Samata Party chief Jaya Jaitley in corruption case

In a major relief to former Samata Party president Jaya Jaitley, the Delhi High Court on Thursday (July 30, 2020) ordered a stay on the 4-year-jail term given to her and two others in connection with a corruption case related to purported defence deal.

Delhi HC stays 4-year jail term given to ex-Samata Party chief Jaya Jaitley in corruption case
File pic: Zee News

NEW DELHI: In a big relief to former Samata Party president Jaya Jaitley, the Delhi High Court on Thursday (July 30, 2020) suspended the 4-year-jail term given to her in connection with a corruption case related to purported defence deal.

The high court passed the order on a plea moved by the former politician seeking a stay on the lower court order. Delhi HC suspended the sentencing of Jaya Jaitley while admitting her appeal against her conviction and sentencing. Noted lawyer Mukul Rohatagi appeared for Jaya Jaitley before Delhi HC Judge Suresh Kumar Kait. 

Meanwhile, the other two persons convicted in the case have not approached the Delhi HC yet. Earlier on Thursday (July 30, 2020), a lower court in Delhi awarded a 4-year jail term to Jaya Jaitley and two others in the 20-year-old alleged corruption case.

Special CBI judge Virender Bhat had convicted Jaitley, 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.