3 Aug 2022 1:21 PM GMT
The Delhi High Court has suspended the sentence of Former Chief Minister of Haryana, Om Prakash Chautala till pendency of his appeal in connection with a disproportionate assets case.Chautala was convicted by city's Rouse Avenue Court on May 27 for the offence under Section 13(1)(e) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. He was sentenced to 4 years imprisonment.Justice Yogesh Khanna...
The Delhi High Court has suspended the sentence of Former Chief Minister of Haryana, Om Prakash Chautala till pendency of his appeal in connection with a disproportionate assets case.
Chautala was convicted by city's Rouse Avenue Court on May 27 for the offence under Section 13(1)(e) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. He was sentenced to 4 years imprisonment.
Justice Yogesh Khanna perused Chautala's nominal roll dated July 21, 2022 in which it was stated that the total period of his custody was one year, five months and twenty one days and that though he was granted bail but yet he remained in custody and was never released from jail because of sentence awarded.
"Thus, considering the age of the appellant being 88 years and that in any case, admittedly, he has spent about one year and six months in custody as per nominal roll dated 21.07.2022 and further that in any case he remained in custody even after his bail bonds were accepted in the present matter; thus as the appeal may take some time to come on board for hearing, hence keeping the question of benefit under Section 428 Cr.P.C. to be decided along with the appeal, the sentence of the appellant/applicant is suspended till the pendency of the present appeal," the Court ordered.
The Court said that the suspension of sentence will be subject to the payment of fine of Rs.50 Lacs as imposed by the Trial Court and also on executing of a personal bond of Rs.5 Lacs with one surety of like amount.
"The appellant shall not visit abroad except with the permission of the learned Trial Court. A copy of payment receipt of fine shall be filed before the learned Trial Court at the time of furnishing the bail bond(s)," the Court ordered.
Senior Advocate N Hariharan appearing for Chautala had argued that he should be released during pendency of the appeal.
Chautala had earlier submitted that while he has been convicted for a period of four years, he had already undergone five years and six months in jail.
It was also argued that Chautala's further incarceration is in violation of the settled judicial decisions of the Apex Court.
The case in brief
CBI had filed a disproportionate assets case against him in the year 2005, and a charge sheet was filed in 2010 wherein the CBI had allegedly detected assets amassed by him between 1993 and 2006 that were disproportionate to his legitimate sources of income
The FIR in the case accused Chautala of accumulating assets, disproportionate to his known lawful sources of income (in his name and in the names of his family members) as a CM of Haryana during the period from July 24, 1999, to March 5, 2005, in collusion with his family members and others.
It was claimed that he had accumulated enormous wealth and invested the same throughout the country in the shape of thousands of acres of land, multi complexes, palatial residential houses, hotels, farmhouses, business agencies, petrol pumps, etc.
In this very case, Chautala was convicted by the CBI Court as he failed to satisfactorily account for the assets detected by the CBI. The value of disproportionate assets so acquired came out to be Rs. 2.18 crore.
Trial Court's observations
The Court had noted that there has been a rise in cases where misuse of official positions is done by public servants to acquire assets.
The Court had observed that it is one of the factors which weighs against leniency in sentencing him so that a strong message is sent to the potential offenders that in case, they acquire assets abusing their official positions, then not only they will be punished heavily but even their properties so acquired shall be liable for confiscation.
Though the CBI sought maximum punishment of 7 years and fine, however, having regard to Chautala's age, disability and the various ailments from which he is suffering, the court opined that 04 Years Rigorous Imprisonment would be just and reasonable to meet the ends of justice.
Further, exercising its powers of this court to confiscate the properties of convict under Section 452 Cr.P.C. with regard to offence of disproportionate assets under the PC Act, 1988, the court had ordered to confiscate assets worth Rs. 2,48,59,363.06 (out of the total disproportionate assets of Rs.2.81 Crores).
Lastly, exercising its power under Section 16 of the PC Act, 1988 and having regard to the balance DA to the tune of Rs.32,59,087.94p., the Court also imposed a fine of Rupees Fifty Lacs upon him.
"Out of the said fine, Rs.5 Lacs shall be given to the CBI in defraying the expenses incurred in the prosecution / investigation. In the event of default in the payment of fine, convict shall further undergo Simple Imprisonment of 06 months," the Court had added.
Case Title: OP Chautala v. CBI