A day after his disqualification from the Rajya Sabha, Congress leader Rashid Masood on Tuesday moved the Delhi High Court challenging his conviction and four years sentence in a corruption case.
Justice Hima Kohli issued notice to the CBI and sought its response by November 13 on Masood's appeal. Masood's counsel H R Khan Suhail also sought suspension of his client's jail term on medical grounds. He said 67-year-old Masood is acute diabetic and is taking insulin several times a day besides other medicines for his old age ailments.
He also submitted that the trial was going on against Masood for past 17 years and he is in custody since October 1 when he was sentenced to four years jail by the trial court. Justice Kohli admitted his appeal and asked the CBI to respond to Masood's plea for suspension of sentence on the next date of hearing, i.e. November 13.
Masood was held guilty by the trial court of fraudulently nominating undeserving candidates to MBBS seats allotted to Tripura in medical colleges across the country from the central pool as Health Minister in the National Front government of 1990. The court had also imposed a fine of Rs 60,000 on him.
Masood is the first MP to lose his seat after the July 10 Supreme Court judgement which had removed the immunity for convicted lawmakers.
Masood's conviction and sentencing was the first case after the apex court judgement that struck down a provision in the Representation of the People Act, under which incumbent MPs and MLAs could avoid disqualification till pendency of the appeal against conviction in a higher court.
Masood was held guilty of offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act and IPC Sections 120B(criminal conspiracy), 420 (cheating) and 468 (forgery). He, however, was acquitted of the charge under Section 471 IPC (using as genuine a forged document).
Besides Masood, the trial court had awarded four-year jail term each to two other public servants, Gurdial Singh, a former IPS officer, and retired IAS official Amal Kumar Roy, the then secretary of Tripura Chief Minister Sudhir Ranjan Majumdar.
The court, which has convicted nine students in the case, has also given one year imprisonment each to nine of them. They were released on bail to file an appeal against their conviction and sentence before the superior court. The nine students, who had fraudulently got admission in the medical colleges, were convicted for cheating.
Two of them, including Masood's nephew, were juvenile at the time of the offence and their case had been transferred to the Juvenile Justice Board on January 25, 2007. The then Tripura Chief Minister Majumdar and the then Health Minister Kashi Ram Reang were also accused in the case. They passed away during the pendency of the trial.
Masood had between 1990-91 illegally and fraudulently, in conspiracy with the then resident commissioner of Tripura, Gurdial Singh, nominated his nephew (a juvenile at the time of the offence), another juvenile and Sachidanand Dwivedi to seats allocated from central pool for students of Tripura.
Sachidanand, one of the three students who secured admission in medical college through Masood, has also been held guilty for conspiracy, cheating, forgery for purpose of cheating, and under the provisions of PC Act. CBI had said in the charge sheet that Tripura does not have any medical college of its own.
Masood has been held guilty on same counts in two other similar cases. The three cases in which the Congress leader has been convicted form part of 11 such cases registered by CBI in 1996.