Court says O.P. Chautala deserves highest punishment
The Delhi High Court on Thursday upheld a 10-year jail term for former Haryana chief minister Om Prakash Chautala and his son Ajay Chautala in the illegal teacher recruitment case dating to 2000, holding that the INLD chief cheated the youth of Haryana for which he "deserved punishment of the highest kind".
Justice Siddharth Mridul said O.P. Chautala being the chief minister of Haryana at that time cheated the youth of the state of their future, and "deserves punishment of the highest kind".
The court asked all the accused in the case, who were out on bail, to surrender forthwith to undergo the remaining portion of their respective sentences.
While O.P. Chautala has been in jail since Oct 10 last year -- when the court had asked him to surrender for allegedly misusing bail and campaigning for assembly elections, his son is out on bail on medical ground. During the pending of appeals in high court, most of the time Chautalas remained out on bail on medical ground.
The court also held that the facts of the case as unfurled by the overwhelming evidence led by the prosecution at trial reveal a "shocking and spine-chilling state of affairs prevalent in our country."
Taking strong note of the active involvement of O.P. Chautala in the conspiracy, Justice Mridul refused any leniency in punishment to 80-years-old Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) chief.
The court also upheld 10 years' jail term for three others - O.P. Chautala's political advisor Sher Singh Badshami, his former OSD Vidya Dhar, and the former Haryana director of primary education Sanjeev Kumar.
In the jam packed court room, when Justice Mridul came to pronounce the judgment he said: "so, this is the end of the road. I can tell you that all the appeals have been dismissed."
The court said the common thread between them is the "flagrant disregard towards the system".
"Each one of them played a role in disrupting the established process to achieve their objective," Justice Mridul said in 400 pages judgement.
It dismissed all the 55 appeals filed by the accused against the sentencing order by the trial court. The court, however reduced the jail term of other 50 accused to two years.
The court said the scam demonstrates how the process of appointing competent teachers was also "vilified" and "not spared from the malaise of corruption".
"Education is a tool, which can be skilfully used by competent teachers to model the youth (our most precious human resource) in their formative years, to enable them to become productive citizens in future and herald India to epitome of success," it observed.
"Yet the instant case demonstrates how the process of appointing competent teachers was also vilified and not spared from the malaise of corruption. Such scams not only result in dissemination of poor quality education to the millions of children, who are bound to suffer, but also unfairly deprive the competent participants in such selection processes an opportunity to gain public employment and meaningfully serve the country. Public confidence is bound to get shaken, resulting in frustration/anxiety amongst the youth, who eagerly await the scarce employment opportunities, giving further impetus to the culture of corruption," said the court.
The court stated that an ingenious employment scam spanning across eighteen districts of Haryana was given effect to by persons at the helm of power and the "entire bureaucratic machinery fell prey to its satanic influence".
The court slammed the public servants who were involved in the case saying they were "duty bound to preserve and uphold the dignity of law".
"Some had even been administered "oath" in terms of the Constitution of India. Yet they chose to flagrantly violate the law, betraying the trust reposed in them by the citizens and the constitution. The very nature of the present crime, its magnitude, ramifications, designed manner of execution and the deleterious impact on the society at large, warrant a strict view, lest, justice be rendered sterile," said court dismissing the appeals.
A special Central Bureau of Investigation court here on January 22, 2013 had sentenced the Chautalas and eight others to 10 years in jail after finding them guilty of illegally recruiting 3,206 junior basic trained teachers in 2000. - IANS