20 years on, Jaya Jaitly, retired General get 4 years jail for graft

NEW DELHI: A special CBI court sentenced

Jaya Jaitly

, a close associate of former defence minister

George Fernandes

, and Major General S P Murgai (retired) for four years for seeking to influence defence purchases during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA government for monetary gains.

Gopal Pacherwal, a political colleague of Jaitly, was also given a four-year jail term in what is known as the Tehelka sting case of 2001, which forced Fernandes to quit as defence minister and caused embarrassment to the Vajpayee government and the BJP.

The judgment marked a huge setback to Jaitly, known for her pioneering work in promoting handicrafts through her Dastkari Haat Samiti and setting up Dilli Haat. However, she narrowly escaped being sent to prison, with the Delhi high court admitting her appeal against the trial court verdict and suspending her sentence. The respite from the HC came just before 5 pm when she was set to be sent to jail. Jaitly is the second influential person to have been scalped by the Tehelka sting or ‘Operation Westend’. Late Bangaru Lakshman, the then BJP chief, was also “stung” taking money from journalists of the news portal, who had approached him.

Jaitly, others acted for petty gains: Special CBI judge

Late Bangaru Lakshman was also “stung” taking money from journalists of the news portal, who had approached him, Jaya Jaitly and others posing as representatives of a company dealing in defence supplies. BJP sacked Bangaru, who was later convicted in a separate case arising from the sting operation.

Jaitly was the president of Samata Party, as JD(U) was known in its previous incarnation. Pacherwal was a senior-office bearer of the party at the time of the sting. Jaitly was accused of conspiring with Pacherwal and Maj

Gen Murgai

to assist a fictitious firm,

Westend International

, in pushing hand-held thermal imagers to the Indian Army. A businessman named Surender Kumar Surekha, booked as an accused, eventually turned approver in the case.

The special CBI court had on July 21 convicted Jaitly, Pacherwal and Murgai under Section 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC and Section 9 (taking gratification for exercise of personal influence with public servant) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

Special CBI judge Virender Bhat said the convicts had acted for “petty gains” and sought to assist an unknown, fictitious firm while awarding punishment on Thursday.

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