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1996 telecom scam: Sukh Ram gets 5-year term

Sukhram former telecom minister_l

New Delhi : A Delhi court on Saturday sentenced former Union minister Sukh Ram to five-year imprisonment after convicting him of taking Rs 3 lakh as bribe to give a lucrative contract to a private firm in 1996, when he was the telecom minister in the PV Narasimha Rao government.

Rejecting Sukhram’s plea for leniency, Special CBI Judge RP Pandey also imposed a fine of Rs 4 lakh on the 86-year-old politician from Himachal Pradesh.

Immediately after the court pronounced the verdict, Sukh Ram was taken into custody. As he was being taken to the police lock up for his journey to Tihar Jail, a youth assaulted him. Security personnel nabbed the man who was later identified as Harvinder Singh.

Sukh Ram will be kept in Tihar’s jail number 1, where another former telecom minister A Raja is already lodged since his arrest in February 2011 connection with the 2G scam, prison officials said.

The court had on Friday held Sukh Ram guilty of abusing his official position as telecom minister to award of contract worth Rs 30 crore to private firm Haryana Telecom Limited (HTL) to supply 3.5 lakh Conductor Kilometers of Polythene Insulated Jelly Filled cables to the telecom department. HTL chairman and Sukh Ram’s co-accused Devinder Singh Choudhary died during the trial.

A seven-time MLA and three-time MP, Sukh Ram was awarded a three-year jail term in 2002 under the Prevention of Corruption Act in a separate case relating to equipment supply.

In 2009, Sukh Ram was held guilty of possessing disproportionate assets worth Rs 4.25 crore. After being expelled from the Congress, he had floated Himachal Vikas Congress in 1997.

Former telecom minister’s counsel had requested the court to be lenient with Sukh Ram in view of his old age. But the prosecutor described him as a “habitual offender”, who “betrayed” the confidence of public and had already been sentenced in two other cases.