He will be the first convicted lawmaker to lose his seat if ordinance is withdrawn

Congress MP and former Union Minister Rasheed Masood was on Tuesday sentenced to four years in jail by a special CBI court here in a corruption case. He will be the first convicted lawmaker to lose his seat if the ordinance on convicted lawmakers is withdrawn by the government. The Supreme Court had removed immunity for convicted MPs and MLAs.

The 67-year-old Rajya Sabha MP and Congress Working Committee member, who will now be effectively out of electoral arena for 10 years — he stands disqualified to contest any election for six years from the date of his release from jail — was immediately taken into custody by the court.

On Monday, a special CBI court in Ranchi convicted RJD chief Lalu Prasad and JD(U) leader Jagadish Sharma, both Lok Sabha members, in a fodder scam case. Their sentencing is scheduled for October 3, following which they will also face disqualification.

Special CBI Judge J.P.S. Malik handed down the sentence to Masood — Health Minister in the National Front government of 1990 — after holding him guilty of fraudulently nominating undeserving candidates to MBBS seats allotted to Tripura in medical colleges across the country from the Central pool. “He is a lawmaker turned into a lawbreaker and has committed the crime even after taking oath to abide by the Constitution, which says all are equal before the law,” CBI prosecutor V.N. Ojha argued, opposing the Congress leader’s probation plea.

The court concurred with the CBI prosecutor’s argument, saying that showing leniency would be a case of misplaced sympathy.

Pleads innocence

“I am innocent. Hundred per cent innocent,” he told reporters while being taken to the Tis Hazari court complex lock-up.

Besides Masood, the court has awarded a four-year jail term to two other public servants, former IPS officer Gurdial Singh and retired IAS official Amal Kumar Roy, then secretary of former Tripura Chief Minister Sudhir Ranjan Majumdar.

Masood was held guilty of offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act and IPC Sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 420 (cheating) and 468 (forgery).

He, however, was acquitted of the charge under Section 471 of IPC (using as genuine a forged document).

The court, which convicted nine students in the case, awarded each of them one-year jail sentence and later granted them bail.

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