"I have been an MP for the last 30 years and I am a law abiding citizen. Considering the nature of the case, my age and clean antecedents, I should be given the benefit of probation," counsel for 67-year-old Masood told Special CBI Judge J P S Malik while arguing on the quantum of sentence.
CBI prosecutor V N Ojha, however, opposed his plea for probation, saying, "Rasheed Masood does not deserve anything less than seven years (in jail) and a hefty fine should be imposed because by nominating undeserving candidates including his own nephew, he had spoiled the career of meritorious students".
Rashhed Masood sought benefit of probation in a Delhi court.
The court after hearing the arguments said it will pronounce its order on sentence at 2.30 PM. Masood, Minister of Health in the VP Singh government between 1990 and 1991, was held guilty of fraudulently nominating undeserving candidates to MBBS seats allotted to Tripura in medical colleges across the country from the central pool.
The prosecutor also said Masood is a person who is a "lawmaker turned into a lawbreaker" even after taking oath to abide by the Constitution which says all are equal before the law. "He and the other two public servants convicted in the case should be given maximum punishment as the students who suffered nearly two decades ago cannot be compensated for," the prosecutor said.
The two other public servants convicted in the case are Gurdial Singh, a former IPS officer, and retired IAS official Amal Kumar Roy, the then secretary of Tripura Chief Minister Sudhir Ranjan Majumdar. Masood was held guilty of offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act and IPC Sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 420 (cheating) and 468 (forgery).
He, however, was acquitted of the charge under Section 471 IPC (using as genuine a forged document). Masood's conviction is the first case after the July 10 Supreme Court judgement that struck down sub-section 4 of Section 8 of Representation of People Act, under which incumbent MPs and MLAs could avoid disqualification till pendency of the appeal against conviction in a higher court.