SC extends interim bail of Sukh Ram till Aug 7

New Delhi: In a relief to former Union Minister Sukh Ram, sentenced to three years in jail in a 1993 telecom scam, the Supreme Court today extended his interim bail till August 7.

A bench headed by Justice P Sathasivam also granted relief to former bureaucrat Runu Ghosh and Hyderabad-based businessman P Rama Rao, who are also convicted in the same case.

The bench listed the appeals filed by all there accused challenging their conviction and sentence to August 7. The apex court had earlier issued notice to CBI on January 9 while granting interim bail to all three accused which was expiring today.

CBI, however, has not filed its reply in the case and on a query by the bench, Additional Solicitor General Vivek Tankha said he was unaware whether the agency would file an appeal in the case or not.

Tankha said he will take instructions from the agency. 86-year-old Sukh Ram was granted interim bail by the apex court after he had surrendered before a trial court to serve his three year sentence in the scam case.

Ghosh and Rao had also surrendered to serve their two and three-year jail terms respectively.

Earlier on December 21 last year, the Delhi High Court had upheld the lower court`s 2002 judgement holding Sukh Ram, Ghosh and 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 which had supplied inferior goods at a higher rate to the DoT.

Sukh Ram was Telecom Minister between January 18, 1993 and May 16, 1996, in the then Narasimha Rao government. The CBI had filed the charge sheet in March 1997, accusing Sukh Ram and Ghosh of entering into a criminal conspiracy with Rao.

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