Former Bharatiya Janata Party president Bangaru Laxman was sentenced on Saturday to four years in jail by a Delhi court for taking a bribe of Rs one lakh in a fictitious arms deal case 11 years ago.
Additional Sessions Judge Kanwal Jeet Arora sentenced 72-year-old Bangaru, also a former Union minister, holding him guilty of taking the bribe from a fake arms dealers for making a recommendation to the defence ministry for the awarding of a contract to supply thermal binoculars to the army.
The court awarded him the prison term, rejecting his plea for leniency and ordered that he be taken in custody to serve the sentence.
The court also imposed a fine of Rs one lakh on Bangaru, who had been caught on camera accepting the money in his chamber in the party headquarters and had to quit as its president shortly after the sting expose, which had created a huge political storm.
"Balancing the twin interest of society and that of the convict, I am of the opinion that interest of justice would be met if the convict is sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for a term of four years and to pay a fine of Rs one lakh for the offence under Section 9 of the Prevention of Corruption Act," the judge said.
"It is often said that the accomplice of the crime of corruption is generally our own indifference. The sab chalta hai syndrome has led us to the present situation, where we are, where nothing moves without an illegal consideration. People are forced to pay for getting even the right things done at the right time," he added.
The judge, in his 14-page order on the quantum of the sentence, said it is time to "shun" the sab chalta hai (It's okay, whatsoever!) attitude and courts should deal strictly with those found guilty of corruption.
"It is the right time to shun this attitude. When Parliament, taking note of the grim situation, has taken the first step to sternly deal with such persons by increasing the quantum of punishment which can be imposed, it is the turn of the court to follow suit, so as to implement the will and intention of the legislature by interpreting the provisions of the PC Act as per the dictates of the apex court," the judge said.
"The problem of large-scale and rampant corruption, more particularly, the political corruption is weakening the political body and damaging the supreme importance of the law, governing the society," he said.
"The wisdom in the saying 'crime never pays' is belied by the factual realities of the day. The crime scenario in our country is distressingly disturbing as it has shattered hopes of both the plebeian and intellectual society about a possible rejuvenation of a value-based society," the judge said.
The court had on Friday convicted Bangaru, observing that the CBI had established the case of accepting Rs one lakh bribe against him.
"Accused Bangaru Laxman stands convicted for the offence under Section 9 (taking gratification for exercise of personal influence with public servant) of the Prevention of Corruption Act," the judge had said.