In a judgment that could have electoral ramifications in Haryana, former Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala and his son Ajay Chautala were today sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for corruption amid scenes of violence by his supporters in a Delhi court complex.
Special CBI Judge Vinod Kumar, who had last week convicted the Chautalas and 53 others, including two IAS officers, for corruption in a teachers’ recruitment scam and other charges, today handed them varying jail terms.
78-year-old Chautala senior, a four-time former Chief Minister, and his son 51-year-old Ajay Chautala, are both sitting MLAs and could stand disqualified from contesting the Assembly elections 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 crude bombs, and clashed with police who resorted to lathicharge and use of tear gas to restore order.
The senior 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 Chief Minister Sher Singh Badshami, currently 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.