Former Union Minister Sukh Ram on Thursday did not surrender before a Delhi court to serve his three-year jail term in a 1993 graft case citing medical grounds, even as his co-accused Runu Ghosh and P Rama Rao submitted themselves to the law to serve their sentences.
Sukh Ram, 86, cited medical reasons for not surrendering as his counsel told Special CBI Judge Dharmesh Sharma that the veteran politician has undergone angiography owing to his cardiac ailments and is hospitalised.
The judge said Sukh Ram's plea that he be taken into judicial custody at the hospital itself will be heard on Friday by concerned Special CBI Judge Sanjiv Jain, who was on leave on Thursday.
After former bureaucrat Runu Ghosh and Hyderabad-based businessman Rama Rao surrendered before Special Judge Dharmesh Sharma, they were taken into custody and sent to jail to serve their respective two and three year terms.
The apex court had refused to give any relief to them earlier in the day and had directed them to surrender before the concerned trial court in accordance with the Delhi high court judgement upholding their conviction and asking them to surrender on January 5.
While sending Ghosh and Rao to jail, the judge said, "Both the accused (Ghosh and Rao) are surrendering and let they be taken into custody to serve their sentences as per the order dated December 21, 2011, of the Delhi high court which had maintained the order and sentence passed by the special judge."
The court, however, refused to hear the plea of Sukh Ram saying, "To my mind, judicial propriety demands that this court cannot pass any substantive order. Let it be put before the concerned judge for tomorrow (Friday) at 10 am."
The high court had on December 21 upheld the lower court's 2002 judgement holding Sukh Ram and 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.
Sukh Ram had moved the Supreme Court yesterday, while Ghosh and Rao had approached the apex court earlier for an immediate stay on the high court judgement. 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 in New Delhi.