A Delhi court on Saturday sentenced former BJP president Bangaru Laxman to four years in jail for taking a bribe of Rs. 1 lakh inside the party headquarters in a fictitious arms deal case 11 years ago.
He is the first politician to be convicted in a sting operation and this is also the first instance of a party president being sentenced in a corruption case.
Laxman, at present a member of the BJP national executive, convicted by the court on Friday was caught on camera by an undercover journalist posing as an arms dealers.
The CD of the sting released by a newsportal had triggered a political storm in 2001 forcing Laxman, also a former union minister, to quit as BJP chief.
Delivering the verdict, Additional Sessions Judge Kanwal Jeet Arora said, "Corruption, to my mind is worse than prostitution as the latter might endanger the morals of an individual, whereas, the former invariably endangers the entire society. It is virulent for the nation and makes people full of ire."
"Sab chalta hai' (It's OK whatsoever!) syndrome has led us to the present situation... where nothing moves without an illegal consideration. People are forced to pay for getting even the right things done at right time," he said.
Laxman's lawyer Ajay Digpaul said the conviction will be challenged before the Delhi High Court.
The BJP leader pleaded for leniency citing health problems.
But the judge was unimpressed and said "courts should deal strictly with persons found guilty of corruption… balancing the twin interest of society and that of the convict..."
The court also imposed a fine of Rs. 1 lakh on Bangaru.
The judge added, "It is right time to shun this attitude. When Parliament, taking note of the grim situation, has taken first step to sternly deal with such persons by increasing the quantum of punishment which can be imposed, it is the turn of court to follow suit..."