New Delhi, July 14
The Delhi High Court on Thursday listed for hearing on August 16 a plea by former Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala alleging illegal incarceration in a disproportionate assets (DA) case.
The former chief minister in his plea asked the jail authorities why they have not decided on his representation for release on account of having already undergone the four-year sentence imposed on him in the matter.
“Why don’t you decide his representation? All the more reason why they should decide his representation and tell him” remarked a bench headed by Justice Siddharth Mridul.
Advocate Amit Sahni, appearing for the 87-year-old politician, said that he made a representation to the jail authorities seeking the calculation of his “actual physical custody” but instead of releasing him as he has sent spent over five years in jail, they sent a letter on the issue to the trial court which disposed it of.
Counsel for the state authorities, advocate Sanjay Lao, said that the jail has a record concerning cases when a person is on bail.
The bench, also comprising Justice Amit Sharma, noted that the petitioner’s appeal against the conviction in the DA case along with a plea for suspension of the sentence was pending before a single judge of the high court.
“Why to file a habeas corpus petition when this issue can be decided by the appellate court?’ the high court asked.
Chautala’s advocate said that his further custody even for a single day was unlawful and while the proceedings before the single judge concern the appeal against the conviction as well as sentencing and the present petition concerned his representation made to the jail authorities.
He urged the court to adjourn the hearing for a few days and call for a report from the authorities.
“It is admitted position that the Petitioner/Convict had undergone actual physical incarceration of 5 years 6 months and 14 days (as on 01- 07-2022), thus the period of 4 years’ sentence awarded to the Petitioner has already undergone and further incarceration of the petitioner is unlawful and illegal,” the petition said.
On May 27, Special Judge Vikas Dhull convicted Chautala and awarded a four-year jail term to him while also imposing a fine of Rs 50 lakh on the convict in the case of acquiring disproportionate assets from 1993 to 2006.
The trial court had also directed the authorities concerned to confiscate four of his properties.
Earlier this month, the high court had called for the jail record of the petitioner in connection with the case and notice on his appeal.
The CBI had filed the case in 2005, and a charge sheet was filed on March 26, 2010, accusing him of amassing assets disproportionate to his legitimate income, between 1993 and 2006.
According to the CBI’s FIR Om Prakash Chautala, while functioning as Chief Minister of Haryana during the period from July 24, 1999, to March 5, 2005, in collusion with his family members and others, accumulated assets, immovable and movable, disproportionate to his known lawful sources of income, in his name, in the names of his family members.
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