Saturday, July 6, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Sukh Ram gets 3-yr RI
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 5
Former Union Communication Minister and President of the Himachal Vikas Congress Sukh Ram, was today convicted and sentenced to three years’ rigorous imprisonment by a Delhi court in the Rs 1.68 crore telecom equipment scam. Slapping a fine of Rs 2 lakh, the Special Judge, Mr V.K. Jain, allowed the accused time until August 5 to file an appeal.

Emerging out of the courtroom, Sukh Ram told newspersons that he would go for an appeal against the sentence soon.

The court also convicted former Deputy Director-General in the Department of Telecom Runu Ghosh, and Managing Director of a private firm, Advanced Radio Masts, P. Rama Rao, under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The special Judge sentenced Sukh Ram to three years of imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs 1 lakh on finding him guilty for being part of a criminal conspiracy to defraud the exchequer by awarding the contract to M/s ARM of Hyderabad which had supplied inferior equipment at a higher rate.

The Judge also convicted Sukh Ram for a substantive offence under Section 13(2)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act and sentenced him to three years’ rigorous imprisonment with a fine of Rs 1 lakh.

The sentences against Sukh Ram would run concurrently, Mr Jain said in his judgement.

The court also convicted former Deputy Director- General in the Department of Telecom, Runu Ghosh, and P. Rama Rao.

While Ghosh was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment with a fine of Rs 50,000 for her offence to be part of the criminal conspiracy, Rama Rao was sentenced to three years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs 2 lakh.

Pronouncing the sentence in a jam-packed courtroom in the presence of Sukh Ram, Ghosh and Rama Rao, Mr Jain said the accused would be allowed time until August 5 to appeal against the order and were granted bail subject to their furnishing a bail bond of Rs 1 lakh with a surety each.

Ghosh was also sentenced to two year’s rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs 50,000 for the substantive offence under Section 13(2)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act. The sentences would run concurrently, the Judge said.

The conviction and the sentence awarded to the accused would remain in abeyance until August 5 for the purpose of their filing appeal only if they deposited the fine amount with the court.

In his 116-page order, Mr Jain said: “I hold Sukh Ram, former Communication Department Director (Finance and Accounts) Runu Ghosh and Managing Director of the Hyderabad-based Advance Radio Masts Ltd Pataru Rama Rao party to a criminal conspiracy.”

“Sukh Ram and Ghosh committed criminal misconduct by facilitating pecuniary advantage to ARM Ltd by abusing their positions as public servants.

“Hence, all three are convicted under Section 120-B of the IPC and Sections 13(1)(d) and 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act. Sukh Ram and Ghosh are also convicted under various sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act as they were public servants.”

“A corrupt public servant is a menace to society and does not discharge his duties properly. He does not adhere to the rule of law and brings disrepute to the government and society,” Mr Jain said.

Earlier, appearing for the CBI, senior counsel appealed to the court to award maximum punishment to the guilty. Sukh Ram’s counsel pleaded for leniency as the former minister was 75 years old and a cardiac patient.

Counsel for Runu Ghosh and Rao, also appealed for leniency on various grounds.

The case on which the sentence was pronounced related to the contract of MARR shared radio system equipment by the Department of Telecom (DoT).

According to the prosecution, Sukh Ram, who was the Union Minister of State for Communications between January 18, 1993, and May 16, 1996, had entered into criminal conspiracy with Runu Ghosh and Rao and approved the bid of the Hyderabad-based private firm even though their rates were higher than other bidders.

Sukh Ram had issued an order on July 16, 1993, that after the finalisation of every tender and before the issuance of the purchase order, every file should be put up before him, the CBI chargesheet said.

The CBI had filed a chargesheet in March 1997, accusing Sukh Ram and Runu Ghosh of entering into a criminal conspiracy with Rama Rao.

Subsequent to the registration of cases, the CBI had in 1996 seized Rs 3.6 crore in cash which was concealed in bags and suitcases. Apart from the cash, his bungalow near the Delhi-Ghaziabad border had been valued at Rs 11 lakh, jewellery worth over Rs 1 lakh, bank accounts and fixed deposits worth Rs 7 lakh, house in Mandi evaluated at Rs 5 lakh and a farmhouse at Panarasa in Mandi worth Rs 5 lakh.

Other property belonging to him or his family included an apple orchard spread over nearly 12 acres and a Hotel in Mandi.

Meanwhile, the CBI expressed happiness over today’s judgement. “We had enough material evidence against the accused and we were sure about their conviction,” a CBI spokesman said.

When his attention was drawn to the court judgement allowing the accused to appeal against the sentence before a higher court, he said “We have enough evidence and we will strongly oppose their appeal.”


Quits as House panel chief
Tribune News Service

Shimla, July 5
Mr Sukh Ram, the leader of the HVC (Himachal Vikas Congress) in the Himachal Vidhan Sabha, today resigned from the chairmanship of the special committee of the Vidhan Sabha constituted for the consideration and making recommendations on the “draft of memorandum of understanding” on fiscal reforms.

In his resignation letter to the Speaker, Himachal Vidhan Sabha, Mr Gulab Singh, he has expressed inability to devote time for the special committee because of his preoccupations.

Mr Gulab Singh has accepted the resignation and appointed Mr B.R. Mandyal, a BJP legislator, as the chairman of the committee.

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