Press Trust of India
New Delhi, 1 October
Congress MP and former Union Minister Rasheed Masood was today sentenced to four years in jail by a Delhi court in a corruption case, becoming the first to lose his seat after a recent Supreme Court judgment removed the immunity for convicted lawmakers.
The 67-year-old Rajya Sabha MP, who attains the dubious distinction of being the first lawmaker to be disqualified after the 10 July Supreme Court judgement and will now be effectively out of the electoral arena for 10 years, 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.
Masood is a “lawmaker turned into a lawbreaker” and had committed the crime even after taking oath to abide by the Constitution which says all are equal before the law, CBI prosecutor V N Ojha said opposing a probation plea of the Congress leader.
The court also imposed costs of Rs 60,000 on Masood, who stands disqualified to contest any election for a period of six years from the date of his release from the jail.
Masood’s conviction and sentencing is the first case after the Supreme Court judgment 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.
“I am innocent. Hundred per cent innocent,” the Congress Working Committee member told reporters while he was being taken to Tis Hazari court complex lock up this evening.
Dressed in his trade mark white kurta-pyjama and nehru cap, Masood appeared calm and composed during the arguments on sentence and before the court pronounced the punishment in the 22-year-old case.
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 3 October following which they also face disqualification.
Besides Masood, the court has awarded a 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.