Former union minister Sukh Ram found guilty of graft (Second Lead)

February 20th, 2009 - 7:18 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 20 (IANS) Former union minister Sukh Ram was Friday found guilty in a 13-year-old disproportionate assets case by a city court. The sentence on the octogenarian leader will be pronounced on Tuesday and he can be jailed for a maximum of seven years.
Special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Judge V.K. Maheshwari found Sukh Ram guilty of having amassed Rs.42.5 million of disproportionate assets, that included Rs.24.5 million seized from his residence here, between 1991 to 1996.

The 82-year-old former communications minister was convicted under various provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Sukh Ram in an interview to a TV news channel said that he was being falsely implicated and would appeal in the higher court.

Sukh Ram could not be present in the court Friday as he had to attend a criminal case proceeding pending against him in a Rohini court here.

The CBI registered the graft case against Sukh Ram Aug 27, 1996. The agency had conducted a raid on his residences here and in Mandi, Himachal Pradesh, in 1996 and recovered Rs.36.2 million.

During arguments in the case, the CBI alleged that Sukh Ram had amassed disproportionate assets, both movable and immovable, to the tune of Rs.53.6 million during 1991 to 1996 in his capacity as a public servant.

When minister of state for communications in the cabinet of former prime minister P.V. Narasimha Rao, Sukh Ram was found in possession of cash of Rs.36.1 million at his residences in Delhi and Himachal Pradesh, jewellery worth over Rs.1 million, bank balance of Rs.492,000 and household articles worth over Rs.one million besides other items.

However, the court came to the conclusion that the disproportionate assets amounted to Rs.42.5 million.

The court convicted the Himachal Pradesh leader under section 13(2) read with 13(1)(e) dealing with criminal misconduct of a public servant under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The case is an offshoot of a 1996 case relating to telecom equipment supply involving Sukh Ram, Runu Ghosh, then deputy director-general (lease-financing) of the Department of Telecom (DoT), and Hyderabad-based businessman Pataru Rama Rao.

During the course of investigation, Sukh Ram was arrested and remained under custody till he got bail from the Delhi High Court of Delhi on Oct 14, 1996.

During the trial, 63 prosecution witnesses including former prime minister Narasimha Rao and 16 defence witnesses, including Sukh Ram’s son were examined.

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