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Updated: November 20, 2011 08:39 IST

Leniency to Sukh Ram will send a wrong message, says court

Jiby Kattakayam
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The Hindu

If ministers indulge in corruption, government policies will suffer

Sukh Ram, Minister of State for Communications in the P. V. Narasimha Rao government, was sentenced to five years' imprisonment by a special CBI court here on Saturday in a corruption case, in which the FIR had been lodged in 1996.

Judge R.P. Pandey also imposed a fine of Rs. 4 lakh on the 84-year-old Sukh Ram, who was taken into custody and sent to the Tihar Central Jail.

On Thursday, he was convicted on the charges of taking bribe, criminal misconduct and abuse of official position, besides criminal conspiracy. Earlier he was convicted twice, in 2002 and 2009 by Delhi trial courts.

In its charge sheet, the CBI accused Mr. Sukh Ram of corruption in procuring 3.5 lakh conductor kilometres of polythene-insulated, jelly-filled cables, costing about Rs.30 crore, from Rohtak-based Haryana Telecom Limited (HTL) during 1995-1996. HTL Chairman, D.S. Choudhary was a co-accused but he died during the pendency of the trial.

On August 16, 1996, the CBI, while searching Mr. Sukh Ram's residential premises, recovered over Rs.1.16 crore in cash from bags and suitcases, including Rs.3 lakh contained in an envelope bearing Choudhary's visiting card.

“The octogenarian convict has already reaped the dividend of a long-drawn process of law and 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 strengthening the popular belief that one can earn money by corrupt means and enjoy its fruits …,” the judge wrote in his order.

Counsel had pleaded for leniency on the ground that his client was suffering from old-age related ailments. He had been attending the trial for over 12 years and he had also lost his wife, counsel said.

However, the CBI prosecutor described Mr. Sukh Ram as a “habitual offender” and deserved no leniency. “We should not forget that he was an MP and Minister and has betrayed the confidence of the public at large.”

Concurring with the prosecution, the court said while the convict's age was a “mitigating factor,” his previous convictions were an “aggravating circumstance” to be considered while deciding the quantum of sentence.

“The court cannot remain oblivious to the factum of shaken public confidence in the efficacy of law to deal with corruption, particularly when it is the question of tackling the corruption cases involving high-ranking public servants such as Ministers and, therefore, the court cannot afford to be excessively lenient with such convicts,” Mr. Pandey said.

Observing that Mr. Sukh Ram was a Minister and MP and hence a public servant who held a position of trust, the judge pointed out that if those with a ministerial rank indulged in corruption, policies of the government “howsoever beneficial they may be, would gravely suffer.”

Just three weeks ago, A former Kerala minister ( 82 years old ) was released by the state government using some special powers under article 161. The case goes back to 1981 when he was the electricity minister and it took 30 years to convict him for a million dollar fraud. The man was ultimately convicted for corruption by the Supreme court and sentenced to a 1 year jail sentence. But the man spent just 79 days in "jail" ( most of which in an posh air-conditioned hospital room with TV, cell phone and nurses in attendance on health grounds ), before he was pardoned by the state government and released on Nov 1, 2011. - What do readers make of this ?. What justice system do we have in India ?

from:  Anand
Posted on: Nov 21, 2011 at 03:41 IST

Dear Readers,

Please accept my appreciation of your emotions towards corruption free nation - ours. Will you please recall the enforcing authority at Rajasthan, a retiree from S.P. An ex.police officer is still at large committed not less than a heinous crime of murder of poor and innocent family still longing for justice for the loss of their nurse daughter, perpetual police harassment of her brother and debarring her father from entering into Rajasthan. Even the Ex.CBI head was supporting those culprits vide NDTV interview. Such heinous murderers are to be hanged in public view and should be hanged their body for birds and animals feeds. Thank you, Remember one of the police harassments in India Today.

Posted on: Nov 20, 2011 at 17:03 IST

Sukh Ram will definitely get 7 STAR Sukhy (happy)treatment like Balakrishna Pillai a Minister in Kerala who was sentenced to one year sentence. 69 days in jail, used mobile phone in jail, home food, threatening government will fall with his lone member son also a Minister, 75 days on parole, 7 STAR stay in posh hospital. Finally granted remission of remaining sentence by the Governor of Kerala recommended by the Chief Minister Oomman Chandy.

from:  Pallath Govindan kutty
Posted on: Nov 20, 2011 at 15:19 IST

Court is right. Old age, gender, colour, creed, community, media pressure, political ideology should not become a hindrance in delivery of justice. A crime is a crime and should be treated as such. Did Mr. Sukhram think about his age while stuffing his bed and sofa with currency notes? He was 71 that time too which is a stage of 'sanyas ashram' as per hindu ideology.

from:  Sanjay
Posted on: Nov 20, 2011 at 12:20 IST

Hats off for indian judiciary.No one will have pardon if they are criminals ,if they are looting public money like this.agar This is the good lesson for those who are now in Sukhram's previous position.

from:  Satya
Posted on: Nov 20, 2011 at 10:17 IST

Mr Sukh Ram`s assets be sold to get back the money which was lost to the state and deposited in Government treasury.The CBI officials be taken to task for delaying the case for such a long time. In future the CBI must come under the Lok Pal so that it functions independently and is not an agent of the Government at the Centre.

from:  p c chopra
Posted on: Nov 20, 2011 at 08:57 IST

The fine of four lakhs is ridiculously low. All his property and assets should be seized.

from:  karthik bala
Posted on: Nov 20, 2011 at 08:50 IST

The delay of 15 years should not consider the age of the accused as a factor for reducing the quantum of punishment.

from:  clarence
Posted on: Nov 20, 2011 at 08:35 IST

Like any other politician,minister etc.Sukh Ram will definitely develop chest pain and high BP necessitating hospitalization. Meanwhile his legal team will move heaven and earth and get him released on Bail and the case will drag on for eternity.Sukhram will thumb his nose at the judiciary,justice system and the people of this country.This too will be like the classic case of Sunjay Dutt who despite his conviction is on permanent bail and yet to serve even one day of his sentence.I don't know what sort of laws we have in this country but one thing is sure and that is it is so full of holes and loop holes that it looks like a sieve with no mesh.

from:  Raj Kumar
Posted on: Nov 20, 2011 at 08:34 IST

The case deserves capital punishment for such a huge betrayel of the entire nation's trust.Irrespective of age all these swindlers have to be eliminated from the world itself.As a habitual offender & quite well versed in this unethical act, he will become a mentor to others to teach as to how to amass wealth by betrayel.He has enjoyed enough with swindled money till this age.His existence will only add to the already swindling enormous criminals who have already placed the country in turmoil & does not fit to live any more.

from:  M.Ramamoorthi
Posted on: Nov 20, 2011 at 07:27 IST

I believe that judge found poor 84 year old to convict (which is not wrong) but it will be better if we can find more young people for conviction.

from:  vinod
Posted on: Nov 20, 2011 at 07:16 IST

It is pity that Sukh Ram has go to Tihar Jail at 84 years of age. He was once caught by the law enforcement when running out of his home like a common thief. We often hear that history repeats itself. It has been so with A.Raja who was also the Telecomm Minister and now in the Tihar Jail facing enquiry in the 2G scam which is the biggest swindle that India has faced in the recent history much thousand times and more greater than what Sukh Ram had petrpetrated with one difference in Sukh Ram's case he alone is sent to jail but in the 2g scam when justice prevails it is the expectation that besides A.Raja many others will find themselves locked up within the Tihar jail.

from:  D.M.Reddy
Posted on: Nov 20, 2011 at 03:22 IST
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