The 86-year-old former union minister was convicted for taking Rs 3 lakhs as bribe to give a lucrative contract to a private firm in 1996. Earlier on Saturday, Sukhram pleaded for leniency in a Delhi court on grounds of his old age while the CBI called him a ‘habitual offender’ and sought maximum punishment for him.
Sukhram has been held guilty for misusing his official position during his tenure as Telecom Minister in PV Narasimha Rao’s Cabinet in giving a contract worth Rs 30 crore to private firm Haryana Telecom Limited (HTL) to supply 3.5 Lakh Conductor Kilometers (LCKM) of Polythene Insulated Jelly Filled (PIJF) cables to the telecom department.
He was held guilty on Thursday under various provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Indian Penal Code. Various offences under which he has been convicted entail a maximum sentence of 7 years jail term.
Appearing for Sukhram, his counsel had pleaded to Special Judge RC Pandey, “I (Sukhram) am an 86-year-old person and attending the trial for past 12 to 13 years. I suffer from old age-related ailments and have lost my wife. Therefore, a lenient view may be taken.”
He also had submitted that ‘age is a good consideration for leniency’.
He said that ‘as such it is not a case where government has lost any money. The CBI allegation was that he (Sukhram) took bribe but no financial loss has been caused to the government exchequer.’
Responding to this, the CBI prosecutor had argued that Sukhram is a ‘habitual offender’ as he has been sentenced in two other cases also and deserves no leniency.
On the age issue, the CBI counsel said, ‘Age is always a consideration but the court should see the age of the accused at the time of committing the offence. But, at present every case is taking 10-15 years and the plea that I am an old person and, therefore, a lenient view should be taken, is not a correct proposition of law governing the sentence of the accused after he is convicted.’
The CBI also said, ‘We should not forget that he was an MP and a minister and has betrayed the confidence of public at large.’
Rebutting Sukhram’s argument that no financial loss was caused to the exchequer, the CBI said under provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act, dealing with the misconduct of a public servant, pecuniary advantage caused to an accused tantamount to causing corresponding loss to the exchequer.