93 telecom scam: Sukh Ram in coma, counsel tells court

New Delhi: Former Union Minister Sukh Ram, convicted in a 1993 telecom scam and ordered to surrender, has slipped into a state of coma, his counsel today told a Delhi Court which deferred the matter for Saturday.

"He has gone into coma, he cannot move from hospital," his counsel told Special CBI Judge Dharmesh Sharma.

Sukh Ram, 86, was directed by the Supreme Court to surrender before the trial court on Thursday but he avoided the same citing medical reasons. His counsel had submitted that Sukh Ram was hospitalised after undergoing computerised tomography (CT) angiography.

Special Judge Sharma deferred the matter for Saturday as concerned Special CBI Judge Sanjiv Jain was on leave today.

"As the applicant/convict has gone into coma and judge incharge is on leave and is joining his duty on Saturday, let the matter be put up for consideration before him tomorrow at 10 AM," Special Judge Sharma said.

The two other convicts – former bureaucrat Runu Ghosh and Hyderabad-based businessman P Rama Rao – had surrendered before the trial court on Thursday and were sent to jail to serve their sentence of two and three years respectively.

While upholding their conviction, the high court had directed all the three convicts to surrender before the trial court on January 5 to undergo their jail terms. The three convicts had approached the apex court to grant them relief so that they would not have to surrender.

The apex court, however, refused to entertain their plea, saying that their appeal against the Delhi High Court would be listed for hearing only after they surrender before the trial court. .

Sukh Ram`s counsel had approached the court on Thursday with a plea that he be taken into judicial custody at the hospital itself. The court, however, had said the the plea would be heard by the concerned special judge today.

The high court had on December 21 last year upheld the lower court`s 2002 judgement holding Sukh Ram and two others guilty of being part of a criminal conspiracy to defraud the state exchequer by awarding a telecom equipment supply contract to Hyderabad`s Advanced Radio Masts (ARM) which had supplied inferior goods at a higher rate to the DoT.

While Sukh Ram and ARM`s Managing Director Rama Rao had been sentenced to three years in jail each, former Department of Telecom (DoT) Deputy Director General Runu Ghosh had been sentenced to two years imprisonment for her role in the 1993 telecom scam case.

Besides the jail term, the convicts were also asked to pay a fine of Rs 2 lakh each.
Sukh Ram, telecom minister between January 18, 1993 and May 16, 1996, in the Narasimha Rao government, had conspired with Ghosh and Rama Rao and approved the ARM Ltd`s bid despite its rates being higher than other bidders.

Subsequent to the registration of various cases, the CBI, in 1996, had allegedly seized Rs 3.6 crore cash, concealed in bags and suitcases, from Sukh Ram`s residence here.