New Delhi: Jailed former Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala on Friday failed to get reprieve from the Delhi High Court on his plea for interim bail on health grounds.
The court sought CBI's response on 78-year-old Mr Chautala's plea and also wanted to see his medical records from jail authorities. Mr Chautala, a five-time Chief Minister, has been lodged in Tihar Jail since January 16.
"Issue notice to CBI. Medical records to be produced before the court on next date of hearing," Justice Mukta Gupta said while posting the matter for April 4.
The court issued the notice while hearing Mr Chautala's interim bail plea and also his appeal against the January 22 trial Court's order convicting and sentencing him to ten years in jail for illegally recruiting 3,206 junior teachers 12 years ago.
Appearing for Mr Chautala, senior advocate Gopal Subramanium urged the court to give an early hearing to his bail plea on medical grounds.
The former Solicitor General submitted that "due to old age he (Chautala) is suffering from various ailments requiring medical attention. He is not in the best of his condition and the documents have already been produced before the court."
Referring to the grounds taken in the bail plea, Mr Subramanium said, it is a case of no evidence and the trial court findings were based on the testimony of IAS officer Sanjiv Kumar, who was also sentenced to 10 years in jail in the case, and not on the basis of investigation and evidence.
He also submitted that "Chautala being the leader of Opposition in Haryana Assembly, his presence is required in its budget session which is to commence from February 22."
To this submission, the court asked, "Can't other members represent the party in the House?"
The court declined to fix an early date to hear his plea saying, "I have no record to go through before passing any order. If there is some urgency, you can very well come and approach the court."
Opposing Mr Chautala's plea, CBI counsel Rajdeepa Behura submitted, "He has already been discharged from the hospital and his bail is not required at this stage."
Mr Chautala, chief of Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), was sent to Tihar Jail after his conviction on January 6.
He, however, had to be hospitalised due to chest pain after the trial court on January 16 announced its order convicting him, his son Ajay Chautala and 53 others in the JBT scam.
Mr Chautala, 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" in the scam by the court, was found guilty of cheating, forgery, using fake documents as genuine and conspiracy under the IPC and for abusing his official position under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
In his plea, Mr Chautala has sought suspension of sentence on health grounds that he is 70 per cent disabled and requires constant supervision.
He had also said, "The present case is false, fictitious and subsumed with political overtones.
"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 is the Chief Minister is unwarranted and erroneous. Further, it a settled principle that in a Cabinet, the Chief Minister is only first among equals," the petition said.
Apart from the Chautalas (father and son), the then Director of Primary Education Sanjiv Kumar, Mr Chautala's former Officer on Special Duty Vidya Dhar, both IAS officers, political advisor to the then Haryana CM Sher Singh Badshami were given 10 years jail terms.
The remaining five, including a woman, who have been awarded 10 years jail term, were Madan Lal Kalra, Durga Dutt Pradhan, Bani Singh, Ram Singh and Daya Saini.
Apart from them, one convict has been handed five years and the rest 44 were given four years imprisonment. Among the 55 convicts, 16 were women officials.