A court in Delhi has sentenced the former head of Samata Party, Jaya Jaitly, to four years of rigorous imprisonment in a case related to corruption in a defence deal. The court refused to show ‘sympathy’ due to her age. Jaitly along with two of her associates namely Gopal Pacherwal, her former party colleague, and retired Major General SP Murgai were convicted a few days ago.
The court in its order said, “All the three convicts have been sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for a period of four years each along with a fine of Rs. 50,000/- each for the offence under Section 120B IPC. In case of default in payment of fine they shall suffer simple imprisonment for a period of four months.”
It continued, “Convicts Jaya Jaitly and S.P. Murgai have also been sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for a period of four years each along with a fine of Rs. 50,000/- each for the offence under Section 9 of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. They shall suffer simple imprisonment of four months each in case of non-payment of fine.”
According to the sentencing order, ‘all the above sentences shall run concurrently and the convicts shall be entitled to benefit of Section 428 Cr.’
Jaitly’s lawyer asked for leniency for Jaitly owing to her age, but the court rejected that appeal saying that ‘misplaced sympathy and unwarranted leniency towards a convict would send a wrong signal to the public and would affect the credibility of the justice delivery system.”
The judge said that since the regular working of the courts in Delhi had been suspended by the Hight Court in order to prevent the spread of the covid-19 pandemic, the order on today’s sentencing was pronounced through video conferencing and ‘therefore, the convicts cannot be taken into custody forthwith as they are not physically present before the court.’ “The convicts have, therefore, been given time till 5 pm of this day to surrender before Superintendent, Central Jail, Tihar, Delhi. It has further been ordered that should the convicts not surrender before 5 pm, the concerned Head of Branch, CBI, shall send three separate teams of CBI officers to the residences of the three convicts who shall take the convicts into custody and lodge them in Tihar Jail,” the sentencing order said.
The case against Jaitly and two others was filed on the basis of a sting operation conducted by news portal tehelka.com in 2001. Under the sting operation, undercover reporters from tehelka.com had paid Rs 2 lakh in bribe to Jaitly in 2001. She had agreed to persuade her friend and the then Defence Minister George Fernandes to award the contract of hand-held thermal imagers to a company named West End International. The company West End International was an imaginary firm and was used for the sting operation purpose.
Even though Fernandes was not accused in the corruption deal, he had resigned later as the country’s defence minister. The CBI had filed the chargsheet in the case in 2006.