Sukh Ram sentenced to jail for three years (Lead)February 25th, 2009 - 4:34 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Feb 25 (IANS) A city court Wednesday sentenced former union minister Sukh Ram to a suspended three year jail term and ordered him to pay a fine of Rs.200,000 for having amassed wealth that was disproportionate to his known sources of income.
Special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Judge V.K. Maheshwari pronounced the sentence which was suspended till April 23 when Sukh Ram deposited the fine in the court.
The 82-year-old former communications minister was also granted bail on personal and surety bonds of Rs.50,000 each.
On Feb 20, Sukh Ram was held guilty of amassing disproportionate assets to the tune of Rs.42.5 million between 1991 and 1996. The court Wednesday forfeited the amount.
The CBI had 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 Rs.36.1 million in cash 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.1 million besides other items.
The court came to the conclusion that the disproportionate assets amounted to Rs.42.5 million.
The court had 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 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.
Sukh Ram’s counsel S.P. Minocha claimed his client was innocent and a victim of political rivalry between H.D. Deve Gowda and Narasimha Rao, both former prime ministers.