Former Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala today moved the Delhi High Court challenging his conviction and 10 years sentence for illegally recruiting 3,206 junior teachers 12 years ago.
Mr Chautala, 78-year-old chief of Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), who was sent to Tihar Jail after his conviction, sought suspension of his jail term on the grounds that "he is unwell and suffering from various ailments".
While seeking urgent hearing of his appeal, he contended that the order of the trial court is liable to be set aside as "it was against the tenets of law as well as contrary to the evidence."
Further, he said, "The present case is false, fictitious and subsumed with political overtones" and he "ought not to be put to such great prejudice and hardship due to his conviction and incarceration during the pendency of the accompanying appeal", which is unlikely to be disposed of expeditiously.
"The trial court has failed to appreciate that in a democratic set up and under the principles of collective responsibility, it is the entire Council of Ministers which is responsible for a Cabinet decision and not any one Minister.
"In such a scenario, only singling out the appellant (Chautala) merely because he was the chief minister is unwarranted and erroneous. Further, it is a settled principle that in a Cabinet, the Chief Minister is only first among equals," the petition filed by advocate Siddharth Aggarwal said.
The INLD chief, his MLA son Ajay Chautala and 53 others including two IAS officers were convicted on January 16 by the trial court for illegally recruiting 3,206 junior basic trained (JBT) teachers in Haryana in 2000.
The senior Mr Chautala, who was held as the "main conspirator" of the scam by the court, was found guilty of cheating, forgery, using fake documents as genuine and conspiracy under the Indian Penal Code and for abusing his official position under the Prevention of Corruption Act.