Jail for Jaya Jaitly in Tehelka case
A Delhi court on Thursday handed a four-year jail term to former Samata Party president Jaya Jaitly and two others for corruption in a purported defence deal two decades ago, a lawyer said.
Special CBI judge Virender Bhat also sentenced to four years in jail Jaitly’s former party colleague Gopal Pacherwal and Major General (rtd) S.P. Murgai, Murgai’s advocate Vikram Panwar said.
A little later, Delhi High Court stayed the trial court’s jail order, her lawyer said. Justice Suresh Kumar Kait also sought the CBI’s response on Jaitly’s appeal challenging her conviction and sentence, advocate Abhijat said.
The special court imposed a fine of Rs 1 lakh each on all three convicts and directed them to surrender before it by 5pm on Thursday itself. The three were held guilty of corruption and criminal conspiracy in the purported purchase of hand-held thermal imagers.
The case stemmed from the Operation Westend sting aired by the news portal Tehelka in January 2001. 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 Jaitly accepted illegal gratification of Rs 2 lakh from Mathew Samuel, a representative of the fictional company Westend International, Murgai received Rs 20,000. The money had been accepted for obtaining supply orders for hand-held thermal imagers for the army.
All the three accused were convicted of the offence of conspiracy (Section 120-B of the IPC) and taking gratification for exercise of personal influence with public servant (Section 9 of the Prevention of Corruption Act).
The court held it had been “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 had been agreed that Samuel would pay Rs 1 lakh each to Surekha and Murgai and Rs 2 lakh to Jaitly, the court noted.
“Thus there had been an agreement between them to obtain the evaluation letter for the concerned product by illegal means i.e. by resort to corruption and personal influence upon the concerned officials,” the court said, adding that “accordingly, Pacherwal arranged the meeting for December 28, 2000. He too was present in the meeting in the room of Jaitly along with Surekha, Samuel and Murgai.”
The court further said: “In that meeting, which took place in the official residence of the then Union minister for defence, George Fernandes, Samuel was introduced to Jaitly as a businessman whose company intends to enter the market of defence procurement.
“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, Jaitly assured Samuel that in case the product of his company is not considered, she would intervene by making a request to ‘Sahib’ (purportedly Fernandes) to send a word to the concerned officer in this regard”.
The court said Pacherwal and Jaitly were also guilty of the offence of conspiracy.
“Jaitly received a sum of Rs 2 lakh through Pacherwal from Samuel as a motive/reward for agreeing to accomplish the task given to her i.e. to exert personal influence upon the concerned ministers/officers in pushing the product of the company of Samuel into the Indian Army,” it said.