Chandigarh: In a fresh jolt to the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), its supremo and the former five-time chief minister of Haryana, Om Prakah Chautala, 87, was sentenced on Friday to four years imprisonment by a special CBI court in Delhi in a 16-year-old disproportionate assets case.
Special judge Vikas Dhull in his order also imposed a fine of Rs 50 lakh on Chautala and ordered the seizure of four of his properties.
Though Chautala’s lawyers had requested the court to hand over lenient sentence considering his medical condition and age, the CBI opposed the plea and pushed for maximum punishment for Chautala, stating that it would send a message to the society.
The CBI said that Chautala was a public figure and giving minimum punishment would send a wrong message. Stating that he also did not have clean antecedents, the CBI said that it was the second case in which he had been convicted.
The CBI, which was probing the case, filed the chargesheet against Chautala on March 26, 2010. The agency contended that between 1993 and 2006, the seven-time MLA O P Chautala amassed assets worth over Rs 6.09 crore, far exceeding his known sources of income.
Chautala was functioning as Haryana chief minister from July 24, 1999 to March 5, 2005. During this period, in collusion with his family and others, he accumulated assets, immovable and movable, disproportionate to his known sources of income, in his name and in the names of his relatives.
The court further noted in its decision that the accused had acquired disproportionate assets to the tune of 103 % of his known sources of income.
It may be recalled that the CBI had also raided certain premises owned by Chautala on April 7, 2005, in connection with the investigations into the junior basic training (JBT) teachers’ recruitment scam, and recovered documents, including a “memorandum of chargesheet” prepared by former Haryana advocate general Mohan Jain which pointed at the family’s huge wealth.
This was also submitted by Congress leaders led by Shamsher Surjewala to the then governor in the run-up to the assembly polls in 2005.
It may also be recalled that the enforcement directorate (ED) had attached his assets in 2019 worth Rs 3.68 crore, including his flat and plots in New Delhi, Panchkula and Sirsa, under provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
In January 2013, Chautala was held guilty on charges of corruption and criminal conspiracy in the infamous JBT job scam pertaining to the appointment of 3,206 teachers. He and his elder son Ajay Chautala, along with others, were sentenced to 10 years imprisonment.