Special Central Bureau of Investigation Judge R P Pandey also imposed a fine of Rs 4 lakh on the 86-year-old former minister who held the telecom portfolio in P V Narasimha Rao’ s Cabinet.
Sukhram, hailing from Himachal Pradesh, will be lodged in Tihar prison’s jail number 1 which also houses former telecom minister A Raja, an accused in the 2G spectrum scam.
Sukhram, whom the prosecutor described as a “habitual offender,” was held guilty on Friday under various provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Various offences under which he has been convicted entail a maximum sentence of seven years in jail. The former minister was held guilty of misusing his official position during his tenure as Telecom minister in the award of 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.
The CBI prosecutor said Sukhram will be taken into custody and sent to jail to serve the punishment as the sentence exceeded a three-year jail term and convicts in such cases are not granted statutory bail.
The CBI, in its charge sheet filed in 1998, had accused Sukhram of showing undue favour in awarding the cable supply contract to HTL. Sukhram had been put on trial along with HTL chairman Devinder Singh Choudhary who died during the process. In 2009, Sukhram had been held guilty of possessing disproportionate assets worth Rs 4.25 crore.
Expelled from Cong
In 2002, Sukhram was awarded a three-year jail term under the Prevention of Corruption Act in a separate case relating to equipment supply that resulted in a loss of Rs 1.66 crore to the state exchequer. He had allegedly provided undue benefits to Rama Rao, Managing Director of Hyderabad-based Advance Radio Masts. A seven-time MLA and a three-time MP, Sukhram, was expelled from the Congress at a time when his son Anil Sharma was a minister in Himachal Pradesh. In 1997, he floated Himachal Vikas Congress.
He was inducted into the Cabinet of the BJP-HVC government led by Prem Kumar Dhumal on March 24, 1998, but had to resign when corruption charges were framed against him.
Soon after the court verdict, Sukhram was manhandled by a Sikh youth who was angry that despite committing “such a crime” he has been jailed only for five years. The youth, Harvinder Singh, slapped and kicked Sukhram before the security officials could detain him, on the court premises.