Friday, October 13, 2000,
 Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Rao, Buta get 3 years’ RI
Sentence suspended till Nov 8

Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI,Oct 12—Former Prime Minister P .V. Narasimha Rao and former Union Minister Buta Singh were today sentenced to three years' rigorous imprisonment in the JMM MPs' pay-offs case.

The sentence has, however, been suspended till November 8 to enable the two to file an appeal in a higher court. Their counsels said they would “not rush” to move the Delhi High Court as they had been granted time.

Pronouncing the quantum of sentence in a packed courtroom this afternoon, the Special Judge, Mr Ajit Bharihoke, said the “aforesaid acts of theirs in my view is a crime of grave some extent, it may even be termed as subversion of the Constitution.”

The trial court also fined them Rs 2 lakh each and said non-payment would invite a further imprisonment of six months.

While Rao stands disqualified to contest elections after his conviction and sentencing, co-convict Buta Singh does not immediately lose his Lok Sabha membership. Being a sitting member of the House, Buta Singh has three months in which to appeal against his conviction. Rao cannot contest elections till the trial court’s order is stayed by the high court.

Rao is the first former Prime Minister to be sentenced in a criminal case which relates to the bribery of MPs to save the minority Congress government during the no-confidence motion in the Lok Sabha on July 28, 1993.

The then Congress government had just managed to sail through the motion by a margin of 14 votes.

Immediately after the pronouncement of the sentence, Rao and Buta Singh moved bail applications before the judge.

He granted them bail on a personal bond of Rs 2 lakh and a surety each and kept the sentence suspended till November 8 to allow them to appeal against the conviction in the Delhi High Court.

Rao and Buta Singh after coming out of the courtroom were almost gheraoed by 100-odd waiting newsmen to get their reaction. But both refused to comment.

While entering the courtroom, the two leaders smiled at the waiting photographers and newsmen, but within minutes they went out looking crestfallen .

Rao’s counsel, Mr R.K. Anand, said, “There is no hurry to file the appeal. I will discuss the case with Mr Rao and then file the appeal in the High Court well within the time given by the trial court.”

Buta Singh’s counsel, Mr Satish Tamta, told newsmen that they would file an appeal against the conviction in the case.

Rao and Buta Singh have been convicted for “criminal conspiracy” and ''abetment'' in the bribery case.

They have been found guilty under Section 120-B of the Indian Penal Code read with Sections 7, 12, 13 (2) read with Sections 13, (1), (d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

In another significant development, the court directed the CBI to register a fresh case against three JMM MPs— Suraj Mandal, Simon Marandi and Shibu Soren— to find out the source of money deposited by them in Punjab National Bank’s Nauroji Nagar branch after the no-confidence motion was defeated against Rao government on July 28, 1993.

Mr Bharihoke said,“The trial requires inquiry into the motive so a case underSection 13(1)(e) of the PC Act should be registered”.

The court observed that “in my view, they (JMM MPs) do not have any immunity under Article 105 (2) of the Constitution in relation to the offence punishable under Section 13 (1) (e) [assets disproportionate to their known sources of income] of the PC Act, it is made out after due investigation.”

Mr Bharihoke in his judgement on September 29 said that CBI had failed to identify the source from where the bribe money emanated.

The court also directed the CBI to confiscate the bribe money that was paid to JMM MP Shailendra Mahato, who turned approver later.

Rao and Buta Singh were pronounced guilty on September 29 by the designated court of bribing MPs belonging to the JMM and other parties in 1993 to buy their votes to save the minority Congress Government against a no-confidence motion.

However, nine other accused, including former Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Bhajan Lal, were acquitted in the case giving them the “benefit of the doubt.”

Those acquitted were V. Rajeshwara Rao, a relative of the former Prime Minister, former Union Ministers Satish Sharma and Ajit Singh, former Chief Ministers Bhajan Lal (Haryana) and Veerappa Moily (Karnataka), former Karnataka Ministers H.M .Revenna and Ramalinga Reddy, Bangalore-based liquor barons M.Thimme Gowda and D. K. Adikeshavalu.

The CBI, in all filed three charge sheets between October, 1996,and January ,1997, naming 21 as accused. While one of the accused, Shailendra Mahato, was allowed to become an approver, nine were discharged in the light of a Supreme Court order on April 17, 1998, ruling that MPs taking bribe to vote in Parliament enjoyed Constitutional immunity against prosecution.

Subsequently, the CBI also scaled down the number of witnesses from about 250, stating that most of them had become irrelevant in the light of the Apex Court verdict. 


AP Govt to delete lesson on Rao

WRANGLE (AP), Oct 12 (PTI) — The Andhra Pradesh Government will delete a lesson on former Prime Minister P. V. Narasimha Rao from a Hindi Text Book for eighth standard following his conviction.

State Education Minister K. Srihari told reporters here today that the government had decided to delete the ninth lesson ‘Deski Pradhani’, on the former premier, from the ‘Hindi Bharati’ textbook.

“Narasimha Rao would have been a model for integrity and honesty. But he was found involved in corruption case”, Mr Srihari added.

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