Citing health, Chautala pleads for leniency

Former Haryana Chief Minister O P Chautala, convicted of illegally recruiting 3,206 teachers in the state, on Thursday pleaded with a Delhi court for leniency in sentencing citing his ill health and old age, while the CBI sought maximum punishment for all 55 convicts in the case.

The section of the Prevention of Corruption Act under which Chautala and his son Ajay Chautala have been convicted entails a maximum sentence of seven-year jail term and minimum of one year.

The 78-year-old Indian National Lok Dal chief said he is a diabetic patient, has 70 per cent disability in his right leg and is also suffering from various other ailments, according to PTI. Chautala's counsel also said he has clean antecedents as he has been the chief minister of Haryana for five times and "if he would have committed anything wrong, public would not have voted for him".

"O P Chautala and Ajay Chautala are public figures and their political career has already been demolished after being convicted and sent to Tihar Jail. So, now a lenient view should be taken towards them in sentencing," the counsel said.

CBI prosecutors I P Vaid and A P Singh, however, sought maximum punishment for all the convicts from the court of Special CBI Judge Vinod Kumar arguing that it is a case of economic offence and against the system. The court will pronounce the sentence on January 22.

Outside the Rohini court complex, a huge number of INLD supporters blocked the roads and shouted slogans against the Congress party, delaying the start of the proceedings. They blocked the jail van carrying Chautala, his son and 20 other accused from reaching the court.

The hearing, which was scheduled to begin from 10 am finally began after 12.30 pm. The corridor outside the courtroom was heavily barricaded and several policemen had to be deployed to ensure that the large number of supporters could not enter the courtroom of Special CBI Judge Vinod Kumar. Only the accused and their lawyers were allowed to enter the courtroom.

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