Two others turn themselves in, sent to Tihar jail
The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to grant immediate relief to the former Union Communications Minister, Sukh Ram, who has been convicted and sentenced to three-year imprisonment in a 1993 corruption case.
A Bench of Justices P. Sathasivam and J. Chelameswar made it clear to senior counsel Harish Salve that the court would hear Mr. Sukh Ram's bail application only after proof of surrender was shown. It is to be considered on January 9.
The Bench asked the other two convicts also — a former DoT official, Runu Ghosh, and P. Rama Rao of a private telecom firm — to surrender so that their bail applications could be taken up for hearing the same day. (Ms. Ghosh and Mr. Rao have since surrendered before the trial court here and have been taken to the Tihar Central Jail.)
The three were held guilty of being part of a criminal conspiracy to defraud the state exchequer by awarding a contract to Hyderabad-based Advanced Radio Masts (ARM), which supplied the DoT inferior telecom equipment at a higher rate. While Mr. Sukh Ram and Mr. Rao were sentenced to three-year imprisonment, Ms. Ghosh was awarded two-year imprisonment.
The trial court had in July 2002 convicted them for offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act and also imposed a fine of Rs. 2 lakh each. On December 21 last, the Delhi High Court upheld the conviction and sentence, and during this period they were out on bail.
Jiby Kattakayam reports:
Mr. Sukh Ram, who was told by the High Court to surrender before the trial court on January 5, did not appear there, citing medical reasons.
Counsel told Special CBI Judge Dharmesh Kumar Sharma that the octogenarian politician suffered from cardiac ailments for which he underwent angiography and was hospitalised. Mr. Sukh Ram pleaded that he be taken into judicial custody directly from hospital.
But Mr. Sharma told counsel that the plea be made before the court concerned — the court of Special CBI Judge Sanjiv Jain — on Friday. Mr. Jain was on leave on Thursday.
Mr. Sharma said judicial propriety demanded that his court should not pass any “substantive order” in the matter.