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TALKING tough on political corruption, a city court has awarded three years of imprisonment to the former union minister Sukh Ram for amassing properties amounting to Rs 4.25 crore disproportionate to his know source of income between 1991 to 1996 when he was the minister of state for communications in PV Narsimha Rao led government.

Special CBI Judge VK Maheshwari also ordered the forfeiture of Rs 4.25 crore amassed by Sukh Ram besides slapping a fine of Rs two lakh on him.

“A corrupt public servant is a menace to the society. Political corruption is the worst form because its consequences are far reaching. When our leaders who are the role models of the society, whose every action should be above the board, are themselves corrupt, how can we expect honesty and virtue from public at large,” said the court in its six-page terse order.

The judge further said: “If public servants are corrupt, the whole structure of the society would get upset and the policies of the government, howsoever beneficial, would be adversely affected.”

“The need of the hour is to check the cancer of corruption”, the court stated. It further said that the welfare of the society could be ensured only through “honest and incorrupted public servants”.

The order said, the CBI has proved that Sukh Ram had accumulated disproportionate assets to the tune of Rs 4.25 crore beyond his known sources of income and the former minister could not satisfactorily explain how he acquired so much wealth.

The court justified the forfeiture of the illegal wealth amassed by the former minister. “Corrupt public servants should not be allowed to reap the benefit of the crop of corruption sowed by them by corrupt means”, the judge said.

Sukh Ram had contended that the cash with him was meant for Congress party fund but this was refuted by senior Congress leaders. Sukh Ram was holding the key communications portfolio at the time of the telecommunication revolution in the country.

“I have never seen so much of cash all my life,” recalled the then CBI director Joginder Singh during whose tenure the agency conducted the searches on Sukh Ram’s premises.

The court, however, granted him bail on furnishing a personal bond and surity of Rs 50,000 each.

Sukh Ram later said that he will appeal against the order in Delhi High Court. The court had convicted Sukh Ram under section 13(2) read with section 13(1) (e) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

CBI had charged Sukh Ram under various provisions of the act of 1988. The agency had said that the former minister had amassed assets, both movable and immovable, to the tune of Rs 5.36 crore during 1991 to 1996 misusing his capacity as a public servant.

It had registered the case on August 27, 1996 following recovery of Rs 2.45 crore from his residence at 12, Safdarjung lane here and Rs 1.16 crore from another residence at Mandi in Himachal Pradesh.

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