In the latest development in India’s homegrown anti-corruption campaign, a special Central Bureau of Investigation judge has jailed a former telecoms minister for accepting a INR3lakh (USD$5,800) for awarding a supply contract in 1996.
Former minister Sukhram is 86 years old and faces five years hard labour in Delhi’s notorious Tihar jail. According to reports, Sukhram gave a INR30crore (USD$5.79m) to Haryana Telecom Limited to supply several hundred thousand kilometres of conductor cable to the government. Sukhram’s trial has dragged on for 13 years.
The former minister will serve his term ‘rigorous imprisonment’ in the same jail as A Raja, another telecommunications minister held on allegations of wrongdoing connected to the 2G scandal. Suresh Kamladi, the former Commonwealth Games organiser and Khanimozi Karunanidhi, another 2G accuse, are also on remand in Tihar jail.
A wave of arrests and imprisonments has happened in India since Anna Hazare’s hunger strike shed light on the scale of bribery and corruption in India. Some of the cases have lingered for years without progress. Bringing pending cases to trial, jailing the guilty and refusing bail to those who might normally have expected it undoubtedly issues a warning shot to any public official who is abusing his or her position for personal gain. There are many more bribery and corruption cases pending and underway in India.
The fate of the Jan Lokpal (Citizens’ Ombudsman) bill is still undecided. There are reports that the Congress party led Government and Anna Hazare’s team of contributors are at odds over the details of the bill, both have announced the Jan Lokpal will be before the end of December.