Jaya Jaitly gets 4-year jail after 19 years, sentence suspended in hours


Hours after being sentenced to jail for four years in a 19-year-old corruption case relating to a defense deal, Samata Party ex-president Jaya Jaitly was given relief by the Delhi High Court which Thursday suspended the sentence awarded to her by a lower court.

The orders were passed by a single judge bench of the high court presided over by Justice Suresh Kumar Kait after he admitted the appeal filed by Jaitly through senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi seeking suspension of her conviction and the sentence awarded.

Jaitly’s legal team moved the high court soon after the sentence was pronounced.

Earlier in the day, a Delhi court sentenced Jaitly to four years in jail in a corruption case relating to a defense deal that was set up by a news website to expose a nexus of politicians and defense personnel.

Jaitly was the partner of then Indian defense minister George Fernandes.

Two other convicts, Jaitly’s former party colleague Gopal Pacherwal and retired major general SP Murgai, were also awarded a similar jail term by the court.

While Jaitly approached the high court within hours of the sentence, the other convicts are likely to move the court Friday.

Earlier Thursday, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) judge Virender Bhat directed the trio to surrender before the court before 5pm Thursday. They have also been fined Rs 100,000 ($1,334) each.

The genesis of this case lies in “Operation Westend,” a sting operation conducted by news website Tehelka in 2000-2001 to expose the corruption in defense procurement deals in India. Tehelka had made the operation public in mid-March 2001.

July 20 this year, 20 years after the sting tapes became public, the court had convicted Jaitly, Murgai and Pacherwal.

On the basis of the sting operation, a police case was registered against four people, including a man named Surender Kumar Surekha but he turned approver for the CBI. The CBI filed the charge sheet against Jaitly and others in 2006.

According to the CBI, Jaitly entered into a criminal conspiracy with Murgai, Surekha and Pacherwal in 2000-01 and obtained Rs 200,000 ($2,669.5) as gratification for herself or for any other person from Mathew Samuel, representative of the fictitious firm M/s Westend International, London.

The CBI said she did it to exercise influence upon public servants for getting supply orders for defense equipment — handheld thermal cameras — from India’s defense ministry for the fictitious firm Westend.