THE key accused of 1992 Stock market scam, Harshad Shantilal Mehta, is no more, but many other accused closely associated with his firms and co-conspirators from PSU banks are very much alive and their sentences given by the Special Court have been confirmed by the Apex Court in its latest ruling. True, Harshad Mehta and others were guilty of defrauding public banks for personal gains but the offence committed by the then UCO Bank Chairman has been found to be more serious as he despite being a public servant, conspired against the interests of the Bank.
While pronouncing the order the Supreme Court has noted that since the CBI has not preferred any appeals for enhancement of punishment rendered by the Special Court, the Apex Court therefore cannot impose a higher sentence. The Bench preferred not to interfere with the punishment given to K Margabandhu who was sentenced to undergo RI for a period of six months and to pay a fine of Rs one lakh in default to undergo SI for two months.
Similarly, one of the senior bank officials Ramaiya Venkatkrishnan had been sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment (RI) for three months and to pay a fine of Rs. 50,000/- in default simple imprisonment (SI) for 15 days, by the Special Judge. The SC set aside the sentence of the special judge and sentence him to imprisonment for a period of one month of RI and to pay a fine of Rs.1,00,000/ – and in default thereof Simple Imprisonment for 15 days.
Harshad Mehta’s close associate Ashwin Mehta is sentenced to undergo RI for a period of one month and to pay a fine of Rs.1,00,000/ – in default Simple Imprisonment for 15 days.
Sudhir Mehta is sentenced to undergo Rigorous Imprisonment for a period of one month and to pay a fine of Rs.1,00,000/ – in default Simple Imprisonment for 15 days.
The SC has also held that all the accused will be entitled to set off for the period of imprisonment undergone by them in this case. In other words, since all these accused have already suffered incarceration in the beginning of the scam, they are going to claim set off for the same against the sentences given and will not require to go behind the bars.