New Delhi: The Delhi High Court will hear on Friday former Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala's appeal against his conviction and 10 years sentence for illegally recruiting 3,206 junior teachers 12 years ago. The 78-year-old chief of Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), who was sent to Tihar Jail after his conviction, has also sought interim bail on the ground that "he is unwell and suffering from various ailments".
Justice Mukta Gupta will hear his appeal as well as the bail application. Chautala, his MLA son Ajay Chautala and 53 others, including two IAS officers, were convicted on January 16 by the trial court for illegally recruiting 3,206 junior basic trained (JBT) teachers in Haryana in 2000. The senior Chautala, who was held as the "main conspirator" in the scam by the court, was found guilty of cheating, forgery, using fake documents as genuine and conspiracy under the IPC and for abusing his official position under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
In his plea, Chautala has sought suspension of sentence on health grounds that he is 70 per cent disabled and requires constant supervision. "The applicant had to be hospitalised (after verdict on conviction on January 16) for chest pain, difficulty in breathing, fluctuations in blood pressure and coronary heart disease and till recently was in GB Pant Hospital," the plea
While seeking urgent hearing of his appeal, Chautala contended that the order of the trial court was liable to be set aside as it was against the tenets of law as well as contrary to the evidence. "The trial court has failed to appreciate that in a democratic set up and under the principles of collective responsibility, it is the entire Council of Ministers which is responsible for a Cabinet decision and not any one minister. In such a scenario, only singling out the appellant (Chautala) merely because he is the Chief Minister is unwarranted and erroneous. Further, it a settled principle that in a Cabinet, the Chief Minister is only first among equals," the petition filed by advocate Siddharth Aggarwal
Apart from the Chautalas (father and son), the then Director of Primary Education Sanjiv Kumar, Chautala's former Officer on Special Duty Vidya Dhar, both IAS officers, political advisor to the then Haryana CM Sher Singh Badshami were given 10 years jail terms. The remaining five, including a woman, who have been awarded 10 years jail term, were Madan Lal Kalra, Durga Dutt Pradhan, Bani Singh, Ram Singh and Daya Saini. Apart from them, one convict has been handed five years and the rest 44 were given four years imprisonment. Among the 55 convicts, 16 were women officials.
With Additional Inputs from PTI