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Explained: The asset case that led to Om Prakash Chautala’s conviction

Indian National supremo Lok Dal and Haryana’s four-time chief minister, Om Prakash Chautala, was found guilty by a Delhi court on Saturday in a disproportionate property case over a decade old. The quantum of sentence will be pronounced on May 26. VARINDER BHATIA explains what the case was all about and why it took so long for the court to deliver the verdict.

Who is Om Prakash Chautala?

Chautala had served as an MP seven times in Haryana and served as Chief Minister four times including the first time from July 24, 1999 to March 5, 2005; from March 22, 1991 to April 6, 1991; from July 12, 1990 to July 17, 1990; December 2, 1989 to May 22, 1990.

What happened in court?

The Rouse Avenue Court in New Delhi has delivered the verdict finding Om Prakash Chautala guilty of amassing assets disproportionate to his known sources of income. Since March 26, 2010, when CBI filed the indictment in the case and the trial began against Chautala, several hearings have been held in court. Finally, on May 19, the arguments of both parties (prosecution and defence) were concluded and the court maintained its “reserved” verdict. Today the court resumed hearing in the case and delivered the verdict finding Chautala guilty of the offence. Om Prakash Chautala was also present in court when the verdict was delivered.

What is the case about?

Former Haryana Chief Minister and Indian national supremo of Lok Dal, Om Prakash Chautala, was found guilty in a disproportionate holdings case today by a court in Delhi. The quantum of the sentence will be pronounced on May 26. On March 26, 2010, the Central Bureau of Investigation which was investigating the case filed the indictment against Chautala. The CBI had argued that while working as a civil servant (MLA/Chief Minister) between May 24, 1993 and May 31, 2006; Chautala had amassed assets to the tune of Rs 6,09,79,026 (Rs. 6.09 crore) which exceeded his known and disclosed sources of income. The investigation under the PMLA was initiated by the Directorate of Law Enforcement (ED), which alleged that disproportionate assets generated by the accused while working as a public servant were proceeds of crime and contaminated funds which were used for the purchase of properties by the accused. The court also observed that “prima facie evidence is on file to show that the proceeds of crime generated by the commission of an offense under section 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act have been used by the charged for the purchase of three properties and prima facie evidence is recorded to show that Rs.95 Lakh was used in the construction.In 2019, the Enforcement Branch had seized Chautala assets worth Rs 3.68 crore which included his apartment, land and land in New Delhi, Panchkula and Sirsa.The action was taken under the prevention provisions of the Money Laundering Act.In January 2021, the Special Judge Vikas Dhull had brought charges against Chautala under Section 4 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act 2002 in accordance with the Order of 13.01.2021 to which the accused pleaded not guilty and demanded his trial,” the court said. .

What caused the long delay in the verdict of this case?

Chautala had requested adjournments on several grounds during the trial of this case. Whether it’s getting a pacemaker for his heart, having surgery, not getting a summons, being admitted to hospital without telling the court, etc. In March 2013, the Delhi court arrested Tihar prison authorities for failing to inform the court of Chautala’s hospitalization. Chautala was admitted to RML Hospital and failed to appear for trial in the disproportionate assets case, following which the court arrested Tihar prison authorities for failing to inform him of the development. The court also issued a notice to the prison warden requesting a report on Chautala’s condition. A new production warrant has also been issued against Chautala, by the court.

What is the previous case in which Chautala was found guilty?

Chautala had previously been convicted on January 22, 2013, of bribery and criminal association charges in the infamous JBT teacher recruitment scam. He was sentenced to seven years in prison for corruption and 10 years for criminal association. Apart from Om Prakash Chautala, his eldest son Ajay Chautala and 53 others were also found guilty of the same JBT teacher recruitment scam. A total of 55 people were convicted in the JBT scam for illegally recruiting 3,206 teachers in Haryana in 2000. Among the prominent people who were convicted in the JBT teacher recruitment scam were the Chautala’s political adviser, then 82, Sher Singh Badshami, then an officer on Special Service (OSD) Vidya Dhar, IAS, then director of primary education Sanjiv Kumar, among 50 others. Last year, on July 2, he was released from Tihar prison after serving his sentence. His eldest son Ajay Chautala and 51 others were also convicted in the same case and received different sentences.