New Delhi: A Delhi court sentenced former BJP president Bangaru Laxman to four years in jail in the 2001 fake arms deal case. Bangaru has also been imposed with a fine of Rs one lakh. Bangaru was convicted for taking a Rs one lakh bribe to push a defence deal in a sting operation 11 years ago.
The court in its judgement said, "Time to shun sab chalta hai syndrome." Bangaru was taken into judicial custody for serving the sentence.
Bangaru's lawyer said that the former BJP president would appeal in the High Court against the order.
The court also imposed a fine of Rs one lakh on Bangaru, who had been caught on camera accepting the money in his chamber in the party headquarters and had to quit as its president shortly after the sting expose which had created a huge political storm.
"Balancing the twin interest of society and that of the convict, I am of the opinion that interest of justice would be met, if the convict is sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for a term of four years and to pay a fine of Rs one lakh for the offence under Section 9 of the Prevention of Corruption Act," the judge said.
"It is often said that the accomplice of the crime of corruption is generally our own indifference. 'Sab chalta hai' syndrome has led us to the present situation, where we are, where nothing moves without an illegal consideration. People are forced to pay for getting even the right things done at right time," he added.
The judge, in his 14-page order on quantum of the sentence, said it is time to "shun" the "sab chalta hai" (It's OK, whatsoever!) attitude and courts should deal strictly with persons found guilty of corruption.
"It is right time to shun this attitude. When Parliament, taking note of the grim situation, has taken first step to sternly deal with such persons by increasing the quantum of punishment which can be imposed, it is the turn of the court to follow suit, so as to implement the will and intention of the legislature by interpreting the provisions of the PC Act as per the dictates of the apex court," the judge said.
"The problem of large-scale and rampant corruption, more particularly, the political corruption is weakening the political body and damaging the supreme importance of the law, governing the society,"
"The wisdom in the saying 'crime never pays' is belied by the factual realities of the day. The crime scenario in our country is distressingly disturbing as it has shattered hopes of both the plebeian and intellectual society about a possible rejuvenation of a value-based society," the judge said.
However, the CBI counsel had pleaded for maximum punishment of five years for Laxman.
Laxman was convicted by a Delhi court for taking a Rs one lakh bribe to push a defence deal. The on-camera Tehelka sting operation took place 11 years ago, forcing Laxman to give up his post as BJP President then.
The FIR in the case was registered on December 6, 2006 against Bangaru, 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, while the trial could not proceed against Raju due to lack of evidence.
In the judgement, the judge said Bangaru had accepted Rs one lakh bribe for the fictitious defence deal and had also agreed to take balance amount of Rs four lakh in dollars.
On Friday, the court in its 155-page judgement had said that Laxman received money to "influence the public servants". "I am of the considered opinion that CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) had been able to establish the necessary ingredients of offence under section 9 of the Prevention of Corruption act, 1988 against accused Bangaru Laxman beyond reasonable doubt," the court had said.
Bangaru Laxman is still a member of the BJP's national executive.
With Additional Inputs from PTI