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High court notice to CBI on Chautala's plea

Posted on Feb 15, 04:24PM | IANS

New Delhi, Feb 15 : The Delhi High Court Friday issued notice to the CBI on former Haryana chief minister Om Prakash Chautala's plea for suspending the 10-year jail sentence handed down to him for irregular appointment of teachers in 2000.

Seeking a response from the Central Bureau of Investigation, Justice Mukta Gupta said Chautala's interim bail plea on health grounds would be heard later and asked Tihar Jail authorities to produce his medical records.

The court posted the matter for April 4.

"I have no record to go through before passing an order. If there is some urgency, you can very well come and approach the court," the court said when Chautala's counsel sought early hearing.

Chautala, chief of the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), filed the plea for suspension of his sentence on the ground that he was "unwell and suffering from various ailments".

Appearing for Chautala, 78, senior advocate and former Solicitor General (SG) Gopal Subramaniam told the court that "due to his old age, he is suffering from various ailments and documents have already been produced before the court."

"Chautala is the leader of opposition in the Haryana assembly and his presence is required in the assembly, which is commencing from Feb 22," added Subramaniam.

CBI counsel, however, opposed the bail plea, saying the accused had been discharged from the hospital and no bail was required.

Chautala also appealed against his conviction by the trial court, saying the verdict was liable to be set aside as it was against the tenets of law.

The trial court last month sentenced Chautala, his son Ajay Chautala and eight others to 10 years in jail while one convict was sentenced to five years and 45 others were handed out four-year jail terms.

Chautala and the other accused were found guilty of illegally recruiting 3,206 junior basic trained teachers in Haryana in 2000.

"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," the plea said.

"Singling out the appellant (Chautala) merely because he is 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 plea said.

Seeking interim bail on health grounds, the plea said Chautala was 70 percent disabled and required constant supervision.

"The applicant had to be hospitalised (after the conviction Jan 16) for chest pain, difficulty in breathing, fluctuations in blood pressure and heart disease and till recently was in GB Pant Hospital," the plea said.

Chautala in his plea said the case against him was "false, fictitious and subsumed with political overtones".