A Delhi court on Thursday awarded a four year jail term to former Samata Party president Jaya Jaitley and two others for corruption in a 2000-2001 case related to a purported defence deal, a lawyer said.
Special CBI Judge Virender Bhat also awarded four year jail terms to Jaitley’s former party colleague Gopal Pacherwal and Major General S P Murgai (retd) in the case, General Murgai’s advocate Vikram Panwar said.
The court, in an in camera proceeding, also imposed a fine of Rs 1 lakh each on Jaitley, Pacherwal and General Murgai and directed them to surrender before it till 5 pm on Thursday itself.
The three were held guilty of corruption and criminal conspiracy in the purported purchase of hand-held thermal imagers.
While convicting the three accused, the court had held that they, along with Surender Kumar Surekha (who later turned approver), were party to a criminal conspiracy that took place between December 2000 and January 2001 at Delhi.
The court observed that while Jaitley accepted illegal gratification of Rs 2 lakh from Mathew Samuel, a representative of the fictional company Westend International, General Murgai received Rs 20,000.
The illegal gratification was accepted for obtaining supply orders for hand held thermal imagers from the army.
All the three accused — Jaitley, Pacherwal and Murgai — were convicted of the offence of conspiracy (Section 120-B IPC read with Section 9 (Taking gratification, for exercise of personal influence with public servant) of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The court held it is ‘proved beyond doubt that in the meeting in the hotel room on December 25, 2000, Surekha and Murgai assured their assistance to Samuel in procuring letter of evaluation for the product of his company from the ministry of defence and also to arrange a meeting between him and accused Jaya Jaitly who would provide political cover to them in this regard.’
It was agreed that Samuel would pay Rs 1 lakh each to Surekha and General Murgai and Rs 2 lakh to Jaitley, the court noted.
‘Thus, there had been an agreement between them to obtain the evaluation letter for the concerned product by illegal means — by resort to corruption and personal influence upon the concerned officials,’ the court said, adding that ‘accordingly, Pacherwal arranged the said meeting for December 28, 2000. He too was present in the said meeting in the room of Jaitly along with Surekha, Samuel and Murgai.’
‘In that meeting, which took place in the official residence of the then Union minister for defence George Fernandes, Samuel was introduced to Jaitley as a businessman whose company intends to enter the market of defence procurement,’ the court further said.
‘Samuel offered the sum of Rs 2 lakh to Jaitly who instructed him to hand over the money to Pacherwal and accordingly, the money was received by accused Pacherwal knowing that it was bribe money.’
‘In lieu thereof, Jaitley assured Samuel that in case the product of his company is not considered, she would intervene by making a request to ‘Sahib’ (purportedly Defence Minister Mr George Fernandes) to send a word to the concerned officer in this regard.’
The court said both the accused, Pacherwal and Jaitley, are also guilty of the offence of conspiracy.
‘Jaitley received a sum of Rs 2 lakh through Pacherwal from Samuel as a motive/reward for agreeing to accomplish the task given to her — to exert personal influence upon the concerned ministers/officers in pushing the product of the company of Samuel into the Indian Army,’ the court said.
Similarly, General Murgai received Rs 20,000 from Samuel on January 4, 2000 in lieu of the assistance rendered by him in arranging a meeting with Jaitley and securing letter of evaluation for the product of the company of by exercise of personal influence upon the concerned officers, the court noted.
‘Therefore, both of them have committed offence envisaged under Section 9 of the Prevention of Corruption Act,’ it said.