Former Haryana chief minister Om Prakash Chautala, his MLA son Ajay Singh Chautala, and eight others were Tuesday sentenced to 10 years in jail for criminal conspiracy, forgery, use of forged documents and corruption in the 1999 JBT teachers recruitment scam.
The sentencing by a special CBI court in the capital took place as a few thousand supporters of Chautala’s Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) party threw petrol bombs, hurled stones and clashed with police outside the court complex. The imprisonment of the Chautalas is a serious blow to the INLD and is expected to help the Congress in the assembly polls due in 2014.
Special Judge Vinod Kumar had last week convicted 55 people, including the Chautalas, for their role in the corruption in the recruitment of 3,206 teachers for government primary schools in 18 districts of Haryana in 2000 when Chautala senior was the chief minister.
The sentencing had been set for Tuesday and thousands of INLD supporters had gathered outside the court before proceedings started. Police had to close the gates of the court complex in Rohini and resort to caning and firing tear gas shells after the protesters tried to break through the barricades and climb over the gates of the complex before the sentencing started.
The protesters hurled stones at the police and the court building after the sentencing, causing the police to fire more tear gas shells to disperse the mob.
While the immediate responsibility of leading the INLD could end up with Om Prakash Chautala’s other MLA son Abhay Singh Chautala, Haryana unit president of the party, Ashok Arora has said that the CBI court ruling will be challenged in a higher court and Chautala senior will continue to lead the party even from jail.
Chautala’s sentencing is also expected to be exploited by rival leaders in the assembly session next month with the BJP already demanding that he step down from the position of leader of the opposition.
Chautala’s then political advisor Sher Singh Badshami, then OSD Vidya Dhar, the then primary education director Sanjiv Kumar and five senior education department officers of various districts were the others imprisoned for 10 years.
Comparing their role in changing recruitment lists of their respective districts to the difference between “a person planning a terrorist act and the person executing it”, the court held that “both deserve the same punishment”.
Holding that “the forging of award lists amounted to forging of ‘valuable security’ punishable