FORMER Haryana chief minister Om Prakash Chautala, his MLA son Ajay Chautala and two IAS officers were among 55 people held guilty and convicted by a Special CBI court in Delhi Wednesday for their role in the illegal recruitment of teachers in 1999.
All 55 convicted in the case, known as the JBT (Junior Basic Trained teachers) recruitment scam, were taken into judicial custody and sent to Tihar jail until January 22, when the court is scheduled to pronounce the quantum of sentence. Most of the 55, which includes 15 women, are now retired.
Among the officers convicted by Special CBI Judge Vinod Kumar were political adviser to the then Haryana CM, Sher Singh Badshami, Chautala’s former officer on special duty, Vidya Dhar, and the then director of primary education in the Haryana government, Sanjiv Kumar. Dhar and Kumar are IAS officers.
The court said the 55 were guilty of criminal conspiracy, cheating with the intent to cause wrongful loss, forgery and use of forged documents, as well as for criminal misconduct by public servants under the Prevention of Corruption Act during the recruitment of more than 3,000 primary school teachers in Haryana.
The crimes are punishable with imprisonment of between one and seven years, along with a fine. The court will now hear arguments on the quantum of sentence over the course of the next week and sentence them on January 22.
Labeling Om Prakash Chautala as the “main conspirator” in the case, the court also held that Ajay Chautala, then a MP from Bhiwani, was in constant touch with Kumar in 2000 when the fake award list was being prepared.
“Ajay Chautala had a stake in the parliamentary constituency of district Bhiwani and the final result shows that the candidates selected from that district far exceeded the vacancies of that district,” the court said, noting that this circumstance also pointed to his role in the conspiracy.
Reacting to the verdict, Om Prakash Chautala’s Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) said the judgment of the CBI court would be challenged. A statement by the Haryana unit of the party said all party leaders arrested in the case were innocent and this would be proved in a higher court.
Kumar was originally a whistleblower in the case and had approached the Supreme Court in 2003 alleging that lists of marks awarded to successful candidates in the recruitment process had been tampered with under pressure from the then CM Chautala