Court compels Sukh Ram to surrender

New Delhi: Former Union Minister Sukh Ram, who On Friday claimed he was in a coma, surrendered before a local court today which sent him to jail to serve his three-year sentence in the 1993 telecom scam case.

Sukh Ram, 86, appeared before the court after coming in an ambulance in pursuance of its order earlier in the day that it would issue non-bailable warrants (NBW) if he fails to surrender today.

Special CBI Judge Sanjiv Jain said Sukh Ram would be taken to jail in the same ambulance and the prison authorities would provide him necessary medical aid as per the norms. "As requested by the counsel for the convict (Sukh Ram), lock up/jail authorities are directed to provide necessary medical aid to the convict in accordance to the norms," the judge said.

Sukhram`s counsel had on Thursday told the court that he had slipped into coma. However, doctors attending on him said he was not in a state of coma and only drowsy. The doctor, who accompanied Sukh Ram in the ambulance, told the court that the "patient" was still unconscious. The judge, however, said that the doctor could accompany Sukh Ram in the ambulance till he reaches Tihar Jail.

While brushing aside Sukh Ram`s plea that he may be taken into judicial custody in the hospital itself, the judge, had instructed the court staff to inform the concerned authorities to make adequate arrangements in case Sukh Ram comes to surrender in an ambulance and unable to move on his own.

Earlier in the day, Sukhram`s counsel Anil Nag told the court that the former minister was not in a state of coma but in a state of drowsiness and would be surrendering before the court. He also stated that issuance of NBW would adversely affect their case pending in the Supreme Court.

Nag told the court that the advocate who appeared for Sukhram on Thursday had gone "over the board" while stating that the former minister was in coma.

Sukh Ram was directed by the Supreme Court to surrender before the trial court on January 5 but he avoided the same citing medical reasons.

Earlier on December 21 last year, the high court had upheld the lower court`s 2002 judgement holding Sukh Ram, former bureaucrat Runu Ghosh and Hyderabad-based businessman P Rama Rao 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.

Runu Ghosh and Rama Rao had surrendered before the trial court on January 5 and were sent to jail to serve their sentence of two and three years respectively along with Rs two lakh fine.

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.