The Delhi high court on Friday refused to suspend the sentence awarded to former Bharatiya Janata Party President Bangaru Laxman, in a graft case, on his appeal filed against his conviction and sentencing by the trial court.
Issuing notice to the Central Bureau of Investigation on the appeal of Laxman, Justice Mukta Gupta sought its response by July 5. However, the court declined his plea to immediately suspend the sentence on medical grounds.
The trial court had on April 28 awarded Laxman four years jail term and had imposed a fine of Rs one lakh on him, 11 years after he had been caught accepting a bribe in a fictitious defence deal during a sting operation by a news portal.
Appearing for Laxman, senior counsel Sandeep Sethi submitted before Justice Gupta that his client is 72-years-old and is suffering from several ailments.
Seeking Laxman's immediate release on medical grounds, the senior counsel said his client has undergone bypass surgeries twice and is also diabetic. The court, however, said without going through the trial court records, it could not pass any order at this stage and summoned the lower court's records pertaining to the case.
After having spent around 10 days in Tihar jail, Laxman had moved the High Court seeking quashing of the trial court's conviction and sentence awarded to him for taking the bribe from fake arms dealers to recommend to the defence ministry to award them a contract to supply thermal binoculars to the Army.
Laxman, a former Union minister, was caught on camera in a 2001 sting operation conducted by Tehelka.com, accepting money in his chamber in the party headquarters and had to quit as BJP President shortly after the expose which had created a huge political storm.
As per the CBI chargesheet, the Tehelka scribes had held eight meetings with Laxman between December 23, 2000 and January 7, 2001, projecting themselves as supplier of defence- related products.
The CBI had alleged Laxman had accepted Rs one lakh from the representatives of the purported firm on January 1, 2001 at his office for pursuing their proposal to supply the products to the army.
The FIR in the case was registered on December 6, 2006 against Laxman, his Assistant Personal Secretary N Umamaheshwar Raju and Personal Secretary T Satyamurthy.Satyamurthy, however, had been granted pardon by a trial court after he turned an approver in the case. The trial could not proceed against Raju due to lack of evidence.