10-year jail for Chautala, son in teachers’ job scam
New Delhi, January 22
Special CBI Judge Vinod Kumar pronounced the verdict even as INLD activists clashed with the police outside the Rohini Courts complex, forcing the security forces to resort to lathi charge and tear gas shelling.
INLD activists threw stones and bottles filled with spirit into the court complex when they were prevented from entering the place. However, no one was injured.
Rejecting Chautala’s plea for leniency in view of his age and poor health, the judge said in the 34-page verdict that “these aspects are not relevant to the question of the quantum of sentence. The relevant points for considering the sentence are the circumstances attending the offence.”
The judge handed out a 10-year jail term to seven others, four-year imprisonment to 45 others and five years to one person. Among the main accused sentenced to 10 years in jail are IAS officers Sanjiv Kumar, the then Director of Primary Education, and Vidya Dhar, the then Officer on Special Duty (OSD) to Chautala, and Sher Singh Badshami, the then political adviser to the CM and a sitting MLA at present.
“Considering the enormity of the offences and the manner in which the politician-bureaucrat nexus has resulted in depriving such a large number of candidates of their constitutional rights, I do not find any reason for leniency in sentencing those convicts who were masterminding the entire conspiracy or assisting them in execution of the same,” the judge said.
The court also imposed a fine of Rs 2,000 each on Chautala and Sanjiv Kumar, Rs 1,000 each on Ajay, Vidhya Dhar and Sher Singh, and Rs 1,200 each on the other five sentenced to 10 years in prison.
A fine of Rs 400 was slapped on the remaining 45 convicts, including 16 women.
The judge had convicted as many as 55 accused in the case on January 16. In all, the CBI had prosecuted 62 politicians and officials of whom six had died during the trial while one person was discharged at the time of framing of charges by the trial court.
All the accused have been convicted and sentenced under sections 120B (criminal conspiracy), 418 (cheating), 467 (forgery), 471 (use of forged documents as genuine) of the Indian Penal Code and sections 13(1)(d) and 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA), 1988.
Immediately after the judge pronounced the sentence, Chautala’s counsel told reporters that his client would challenge the verdict in the Delhi High Court. Both the father and the son were lodged in Tihar Jail here after the court had convicted them on January 16.
Currently, Chautala (78), who has been CM four times, and his 51-year-old son are MLAs and they will be in a position to contest the next Assembly elections, due in October next year, only if they get their conviction stayed by a higher court.
Barring Chautala, who has been hospitalised, all the convicts were present in the courtroom when the judge read out the verdict.
In its findings, the court said Chautala was the main conspirator in the scam. As part of the conspiracy, hatched in Haryana Bhavan here and in Chandigarh, the Chautala government had replaced the original list containing the successful candidates with a fake list after transferring an IAS officer RP Chander, the then Primary Education Director who had prepared the first list.
Another IAS officer Rajni Shekri Sibal, who replaced Chander, was asked by accused Badshami and Vidya Dhar in the presence of Ajay Chautala to change the list. Both Chander and Sibal became CBI witnesses later. On the plea of Sanjiv Kumar, who claimed he was the whistleblower in the case, the Supreme Court had directed the CBI to conduct the investigation into the scam.
The CBI, however, did not spare him, contending that its probe had shown him to be a partner in the crime.