No relief to Sukh Ram, accomplices, SC asks to surrender

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Former Union Minister Sukhram
New Delhi, Jan 5: In a huge setback to former Union Minister Sukhram, convicted in a 1993 graft case, the Supreme Court on Thursday asked him to surrender before a trial court to serve his three year jail term.

Refusing to interfere with the Delhi High Court order which had upheld Sukhram's conviction and his jail term, the apex court also refused to give any relief to his accomplices, former bureaucrat Runu Ghosh and private telecom firm Managing Director P Rama Rao and asked them to surrender to serve their sentences.

A bench of justices P Sathasivam and J Chelameswar refused to grant any relief to the trio, saying it would hear their pleas only after they surrender before the court by evening.

The former minister and others were held guilty for being part of a criminal conspiracy to defraud the state exchequer by awarding a telecom equipment supply contract to Hyderabad-based Advanced Radio Masts (ARM) which had supplied inferior goods at a higher rate to the DoT.

While Sukhram and ARM's Managing Director P Rama Rao had been sentenced to three year in jail each, former Department of Telecom (DoT) Deputy Director General Runu Ghosh had been sentenced to two year's imprisonment for her role in the 1993 telecom scam case.

Sukhram had on Wednesday moved the Supreme Court seeking stay on the Delhi High Court's December 21 order, which had upheld his conviction in the case. Ghosh and Rao had moved the apex court earlier for an immediate stay on the high court order.

While upholding their conviction, the high court had directed all the three accused to surrender before the trial court on January 5 to undergo three-year jail term.

Sukhram, Runu Ghosh and Rama Rao, were convicted on July 5, 2002 by a Delhi court under various provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act. The lower court had also imposed a fine of Rs 2 lakh each on them.

While convicting and sentencing the trio, the lower court had granted them interim bail to go in an appeal to the high court against their conviction. The high court too had extended their interim bail while hearing their appeals.

Sukhram, who was the Union Minister of State for Communications between January 18, 1993 and May 16, 1996, had entered into criminal conspiracy with Ghosh and Rao and approved the bid of the Hyderabad-based private firm even though its rates were higher than other bidders, the CBI charge sheet had said.

The then minister 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, it said.

The CBI had filed the charge sheet in March 1997, accusing Sukhram and Ghosh of entering into a criminal conspiracy with Rao.

Subsequent to the registration of various cases, the CBI, in 1996, had allegedly seized Rs3.6 crore in cash which was concealed in bags and suitcases.

PTI

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