Smriti Singh,TNN | Apr 28, 2014, 05.04 AM IST
NEW DELHI: Four people, including an 82-year-old, have been sentenced to four years in jail by a special CBI court in connection with a 2001 corruption case.
Observing that “corruption hinders the economic growth of the nation”, special CBI judge Kanwaljeet Arora also imposed a fine of Rs 1.5 crore on the convicts. The court convicted the then officials of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant —Bhima Razu Prasad and Ashwani Kumar Gupta— and officials of a private company —Anil Verma and A C Chanana— under sections of Prevention of Corruption Act. In 2001, CBI had registered a case against them for entering into a criminal conspiracy to cheat Visakhapatnam Steel Plant. The prosecution stated that Prasad and Gupta obtained pecuniary advantage for Verma and Chanana by increasing the contractual rates of handling and transportation from Rs 36 per metric tonne to Rs 140 per metric tonne. Their act caused a wrongful loss of Rs 2.01 crore to the plant.
Even as 82-year-old Chanana pleaded leniency on the quantum of sentence citing his old age and a protracted trial, the court rejected his plea saying, “it has to be borne in mind that punishment prescribed by law is to protect society by deterring the potential offenders on one hand and by preventing the offender from repeating the offence on the other hand”.
While the court imposed a fine of Rs 15 lakh each on Prasad and Gupta and Rs 10 lakh on Chanana, it imposed a fine of Rs 1.05 crore on Verma saying he was the principal beneficiary and gained more than Rs1 crore at the expense of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant. “The conduct of the convicts not only led to pecuniary loss to public exchequer but raised the basic cost of the product manufactured by their organization, which is being used in manufacturing automobile, general engineering and fabrication sectors. The increase in this cost ultimately affected the consumers who were required to shell out more,” it said.