New Delhi: Former Haryana chief minister OP Chautala and his son Ajay Singh Chautala were on Tuesday sentenced to 10 years in jail for their involvement in the teachers' recruitment scam. Special CBI Judge Vinod Kumar, who last week had convicted the Chautalas and 53 others, including two IAS officers, for corruption in a teachers' recruitment scam and other charges, handed them varying jail terms. Seventy eight-year-old Chautala and his son 51-year-old Ajay are both sitting MLAs.
The judgement could have electoral ramifications in Haryana, as the duo could stand barred from contesting the elections to the state Assembly next year if their conviction is not stayed by a higher court.
Under the Representation of the People Act, a person convicted of any offence and sentenced to more than two years imprisonment shall be disqualified from the date of conviction and for a further period of six years after his release. Unfazed by the violence outside, the judge read out the order of sentencing as Chautala's supporters thronged the court complex threw stones and clashed with police who resorted to lathicharge and use of tear gas in a bid to restore order.
OP Chautala was not present in the court because of his hospitalisation after being taken into custody last week, his son and all the other convicts were present in the court. Apart from the Chautalas, the court has awarded ten years imprisonment to Sanjiv Kumar, the then Director of Primary Education, Chautala's former Officer on Special Duty Vidya Dhar, both IAS officers, and political advisor to the then Haryana CM Sher Singh Badshami, curently a sitting MLA.
All the 55 convicts have been convicted and sentenced under sections 120B(criminal conspiracy), 418(cheating), 467(forgery), 471 (using forged documents as genuine) of the IPC and sections 13 (1) (d) and 13 (2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act. Apart from the five main accused, four others including a woman have been awarded 10 years jail term, one has been given five years and the rest 45 given four years sentence.
Earlier in the morning, much before the court was to pronounce the sentence, hundreds of supporters of Indian National Lok Dal clashed with police which used batons and teargas to control them outside the court where barricades were set up to prevent them from entering. The supporters hurled bottles filled with flammable spirits into the court complex but none was injured.
The supporters had gathered outside the complex in the early hours and clashed with police after it prevented them from entering the court complex. The police used batons and teargas to control the supporters. Security has been tightened around the complex and entry has been restricted in the court. The court work was also affected and lawyers faced problems getting in.
On January 16, the court had held 78-year-old Om Prakash Chautala, his son Ajay Chautala and 53 others guilty of illegally recruiting 3,206 junior basic trained (JBT) teachers in the state in 2000. Apart from the five main accused, the four others who were sentenced to 10 years imprisonment are Durga Dutt Pradhan, Bani Singh, Daya Saini and Madan Lal Kalra. Five years imprisonment was handed down to Pushkar Mal Verma.
Earlier in the day, District Judge S K Sarvaria, several judges and senior police officers went around the court complex to inspect security and to see what can be done to manage the swelling crowd outside the Rohini court. The court on January 16, while convicting all the 55 accused in the case of illegal recruitment of 3,206 junior basic trained teachers, had held Chautala senior as the "main conspirator".
The court had relied on the testimony of Sanjiv Kumar who initially was a whistle blower but in the CBI probe that followed he was found to be involved in the scam. The CBI had filed its chargesheet in a Delhi court after its probe established that a conspiracy on making second lists was hatched at Haryana Bhawan here by calling the chairpersons and members of the district-level selection committees of 18 districts.
They were also called at a guest house in Chandigarh, where the modalities were worked out, it had said. The court had said that first IAS officer RP Chander (CBI witness), who was the then Director of Primary Education, had given a proposal for declaring the results of successful candidates in April 2000, but he was transferred on the next day itself.
Subsequently, IAS officer Rajni Shekri Sibal (CBI witness), was brought in at Chander's place and she was asked by accused Badshami and Vidya Dhar to change the award lists in the presence of Ajay Chautala, it had said.
With additional information from PTI