New Delhi/Shimla : Former union minister Sukh Ram, who was Saturday sentenced to five years rigorous imprisonment in a 1996 telecom scam case by a Delhi court, said he was a victim of a political conspiracy and would seek justice from a higher court.
“I am a victim of a political conspiracy. I will not end my fight here. I will move a higher court to get justice. I will come out clean,” the octogenarian Sukh Ram said over phone from his residence in Noida.
Sukh Ram had to resign as the communications minister in the Narasimha Rao government in 1996 in the wake of a financial scandal involving purchase of telecom equipment from a Hyderabad-based private firm.
Currently out on bail, he was convicted Thursday by special Central Bureau of Investigation court which found him guilty of accepting a bribe of Rs.3 lakh from the firm 15 years ago.
Pronouncing the judgment Friday, CBI Judge R.P. Pandey said: “The accused has been awarded five years of rigorous imprisonment.”
The court has also imposed a fine of Rs.400,000 on Sukh Ram.
The case, registered by the CBI in November 1996, was of awarding a contract worth Rs.30 crore to private company Haryana Telecom Limited (HTL) to supply cables to the telecom department.
The 84-year-old former minister belongs to Mandi town in the hill state and commands influence in the area.
Sukh Ram’s son Anil Sharma, a sitting legislator from Mandi, said: “Panditji (as Sukh Ram is popularly known) will come out clean. It’s not a final verdict. He will get justice in the higher court.”
He said it was his father who brought the country’s telecom revolution.
“Rather than appreciating his work, he was falsely implicated in the case.”
This is the third conviction of Sukh Ram on corruption charges. In 2009, Sukh Ram was found guilty in a 13-year-old case of owning assets disproportionate to his income.
Special CBI Judge V.K. Maheshwari found Sukh Ram guilty of having amassed Rs.42.5 million of disproportionate assets, that included Rs.24.5 million seized from his residence in New Delhi, between 1991 to 1996.
The CBI registered the graft case against Sukh Ram Aug 27, 1996. The agency had conducted a raid on his residences here and in Mandi in 1996 and recovered Rs.36.2 million.
In 2002, he was sentenced to three years in jail in another corruption case wherein he was held guilty for causing a loss of Rs.1.66 crore to the public exchequer in award of a contract to a Hyderabad-based firm for supplying some equipment to the government using fraudulent means.