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Ex-Haryana CM Chautala gets 4-year jail in assets case

Former Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala leaves after a hearing in the disproportionate assets case in New Delhi on May 26, 2022.

Former Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala leaves after a hearing in the disproportionate assets case in New Delhi on May 26, 2022. | Photo Credit: PTI

A Special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in Delhi on Friday sentenced former Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala to four years’ rigorous imprisonment and imposed a fine of ₹50 lakh on him after finding him guilty of amassing assets disproportionate to his income. 

Special Judge Vikas Dhull had on May 21 convicted Chautala in the disproportionate assets case registered by the CBI in 2006, finding him guilty of charges under Sections 13(1)(e) and 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. 

The court had found Chautala guilty of amassing ₹2.81 crore (103%) in assets disproportionate to his known sources of income at the time. 

Significantly, Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) Ajay Gupta said the court had also directed the confiscation of four properties of Chautala in Delhi and Haryana. The properties include a plot of land at Asola Farm in Delhi, a flat on Hailey Road in Delhi, another flat in Gurugram’s Jan Pratinidhi Co-Operative Group Housing Society, and a plot of land in Panchkula — all of which put together are valued at over ₹2.48 crore, as per the sentencing order.

The court directed the CBI to inform relevant local authorities of the confiscation of the aforementioned properties to the Government of India. 

₹5 lakh for CBI

The court also directed that ₹5 lakh out of the total fine of ₹50 lakh be paid to the CBI “in defraying the expenses incurred in the prosecution/investigation”. The court added that if the fine was not paid, an additional six months of simple imprisonment would be added to his sentence. 

However, while outlining the prison term for the octogenarian politician, the judge said “the period of custody undergone by the convict in the present case whether at the stage of investigation, inquiry or trial is required to be set off under Section 428 Cr.PC”, thereby setting off 487 days from the four-year-sentence. 

While the prosecution argued for the maximum sentence of seven years in the case, citing his previous conviction in the teachers’ recruitment scam and the gravity of the offences he was convicted for, Chautala’s counsel argued for the minimum sentence, citing his age (87) and his 60% disability owing to polio and various other ailments. 

After considering the arguments of both sides, the court ruled, “In the facts and circumstances, having regard to the age of convict, disability and the various ailments from which convict is suffering [although none of them are serious and life-threatening], I am not inclined to accept the plea of Ld. SPP for the CBI for awarding maximum punishment. In the facts and circumstances, this court is of the opinion that four years’ rigorous imprisonment is just and reasonable to meet the ends of justice.”

Taken into custody

Mr. Gupta said Chautala was taken into custody after the order was pronounced on Friday. 

The CBI had registered a case in this matter in 2006 on allegations that during his time as the Chief Minister of Haryana between August 1999 and March 2005, he had colluded with his family members and others to accumulate assets disproportionate to his known sources of income in his name and in the names of his family members. 

The probe agency had then filed a charge-sheet against Chautala in 2010, alleging that the extent of disproportionate assets was over ₹6.09 crore, which was allegedly 189.11% of his known sources of income at the time.

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Printable version | May 27, 2022 10:45:49 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/delhi-court-awards-4-year-jail-term-to-o-p-chautala-in-assets-case/article65466835.ece