1993 telecom scam: Sukhram gets out of coma to land in jail

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Former Union minister Sukhram
New Delhi, Jan 7: Former telecom minister Sukhram surrendered at Patiala House Court complex on Saturday, Jan 7, who arrived in ambulance following Delhi court's ultimatum to surrender.

The court ordered him to be sent to jail in ambulance to serve his three-year sentence. On Saturday a Delhi court asked Sukhram, convicted in a 1993 telecom scam, to surrender on failing which it would issue non-bailable warrants against the convict.

"I will have to issue a non bailable warrant against Sukhram. I am bound by the high court order and I have to comply with it," said Special CBI Judge Sanjiv Jain.

In a U-turn, the 86-year-old's counsel Anil Nag told the court that the former minister was not in a state of coma and would be surrendering before the court on Saturday.

Nag told the court that Sukhram was not in coma but in a state of drowsiness and the advocate who appeared for him on Friday had gone "over the board" while stating so.

Sukhram's counsel told the judge that the veteran politician would anyhow come to the court and surrender even if he has to come in an ambulance.

"I submit that he will surrender and we will bring him in an ambulance as soon as possible," he said, adding that issuance of NBW against his client will adversely affect his Special Leave Petition (SLP) pending in the Supreme Court.

While brushing aside Sukhram's plea that he may be taken into judicial custody in the hospital itself, the judge, instructed the court staff to inform the concerned authorities to make adequate arrangements in case Sukhram comes to surrender in an ambulance and unable to move on his own.

Sukhram was directed by the Supreme Court to surrender before the trial court on January 5 but he avoided the same citing medical reasons.

The former minister's counsel had submitted that Sukhram was hospitalised after undergoing computerised tomography (CT) angiography.

Sukhram's counsel, however, had on Friday told the court that "he has gone into coma, he cannot move from hospital".

Earlier on December 21 last year, the high court had upheld the lower court's 2002 judgment holding Sukhram, former bureaucrat Runu Ghosh and Hyderabad-based businessman P Rama Rao guilty of being part of a criminal conspiracy to defraud the state exchequer by awarding a Telecom equipment supply contract to Hyderabad's Advanced Radio Masts (ARM) which had supplied inferior goods at a higher rate to the DoT.

Runu Ghosh and Rama Rao had surrendered before the trial court on January 5 and were sent to jail to serve their sentence of two and three years respectively.

Sukhram was sentenced to three years of imprisonment by the trial court. Besides the jail term, the convicts were also asked to pay a fine of Rs 2 lakh each.

The three convicts had approached the apex court to grant them relief so that they would not have to surrender.

The apex court, however, refused to entertain their plea, saying that their appeal against the Delhi High Court would be listed for hearing only after they surrender before the trial court.

Sukhram, telecom minister between January 18, 1993 and May 16, 1996, in the Narasimha Rao government, had conspired with Ghosh and Rama Rao and approved the ARM Ltd's bid despite its rates being higher than other bidders.

Subsequent to the registration of various cases, the CBI, in 1996, had allegedly seized Rs3.6 crore cash, concealed in bags and suitcases, from Sukh Ram's residence.

PTI 

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