Rajya Sabha member and Congress leader, Rasheed Masood, was on Tuesday sentenced to four years in jail by a Delhi court in a corruption case, becoming the first MP to lose his seat after a recent Supreme Court judgement had removed the immunity for convicted lawmakers.
67-year-old Masood, who attains the dubious distinction of being the first lawmaker to be disqualified after the July 10 Supreme Court judgement, was immediately taken into custody by the court.
Special CBI Judge J P S Malik handed down the jail term to Masood after holding him guilty 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 also imposed costs of Rs.60,000 on Masood.
Masood’s conviction and sentencing is the first case after the Supreme 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.
Yesterday, a court in Ranchi convicted RJD chief Lalu Prasad and JD(U) leader Jagadish Sharma, both Lok Sabha members, in a fodder scam case. Their sentencing is scheduled for October 3 following which they also face disqualification.
Besides Masood, the court has 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.
Masood was held guilty of offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act and IPC Sections 120-B(criminal conspiracy), 420 (cheating) and 468 (forgery). He, however, was acquitted of the charge under Section 471 IPC (using as genuine a forged document).
The court, which has convicted nine students in the case, has also given one year imprisonment each to nine of them.
It also imposed a fine of Rs.1.5 lakh on Singh, Rs.one lakh on Roy and Rs.40,000 each on the nine students.
Soon after the sentence was pronounced in the jam-packed room, the court ordered the custody of the convicts.
The nine students have moved their bail applications to enable them 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 Sudhir Ranjan Majumdar and the then Health Minister Kashi Ram Reang were also accused in the case. They passed away during the pendency of the trial.