Former Union Communications Minister Sukhram was on Wednesday sentenced to three years imprisonment by a Delhi court for amassing disproportionate assets worth Rs 4.25 crore during his tenure in the P V Narasimha Rao government.
The court also imposed a fine of Rs two lakh on the former minister and ordered the forfeiture of his illegal assets worth Rs 4.25 crore. However, Special Central Bureau of Investigation judge V K Maheshwari granted bail to the 82-year-old Congress leader, on furnishing a personal bond and surety of Rs 50,000 each.
The verdict was delivered in a packed courtroom in New Delhi in the presence of the octogenarian politician, from whose official house in Delhi Rs 2.45 crore in cash were recovered 13 years ago by a CBI team, led by the investigating agency's former chief Joginder Singh.
This seizure was followed by the recovery of another Rs 1.16 crore from Sukhram's house in Mandi in Himachal Pradesh. The CBI had alleged that he had amassed the illegal assets between 1991 and 1996. The Himachal Pradesh leader was held guilty by the court on February 20 under various provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act dealing with criminal misconduct by a public servant.
The court had convicted Sukhram under Section 13 (2) read with 13 (1)(e) dealing with criminal misconduct of a public servant. In its judgment, the court had differed with the CBI's computation of Sukhram's illegal assets and reduced their value from Rs 5.36 crore to Rs 4.25 crore.
The CBI had registered the case against the former minister on August 27, 1996 following the recovery of unaccounted wealth. It had conducted raids at his official bungalow in Delhi and houses in Himachal Pradesh on August 16, 1996.
Sukhram said he will approach the Delhi High Court against his conviction and jail sentence. "My lawyers will go through the judgment and I will definitely appeal in the High Court," he told PTI immediately after the sentence was pronounced against him.
The CBI counsel, who had sought the maximum punishment of seven years' imprisonment for Sukhram, however, expressed satisfaction on the outcome of the case. "I am satisfied with the judgment," CBI's Special Public Prosecutor Gurdial Singh said.