Haryana Ex-CM Chautala’s Release Case : AAP Govt In A Cleft Stick

Omprakash Chautala

JAG MOHAN THAKEN-CHANDIGARH. Former Haryana Chief Minister O P Chautala’s application, in Delhi High Court for early release from jail, has put the Aam Aadmi Party in a dilemma .Mr. Chautala , 83, who is serving a 10-year jail term in Haryana’s JBT teachers recruitment scam along with his elder son Ajay Singh Chautala and 53 others , had approached Delhi High Court on Tuesday (February 19,2019 ) to  seek directions to the government to release him from prison in accordance with the center’s policy July 18,2018 giving special remission to certain categories .While  hearing the case on Wednesday , the Delhi High Court bench consisting of justices Siddharth Mridul and Pareek Jalan asked the Delhi’s AAP government to decide the premature release plea of Chautala within four weeks .

Chautala has contended that keeping in mind his age (83), disability and the period of seven years (out of ten years) spent in jail, his premature release application may be considered.

Assuring the
court, a decision on Chautala’s representation, Delhi government’s Counsel
Rahul Mehra opposed the plea of Chautala on the ground that he (Chautala) was
convicted for corruption which was a serious offence.

But Chautala’s
advocate Amit Sahni

“Chautala was convicted for 10 years under the Indian Penal Code and 7 years under the Prevention of Corruption Act. He has already undergone the sentence awarded under the Prevention of Corruption Act and also has a permanent disability of 60 per cent (as on April 2013) and later has undergone implantation of pacemaker in June 2013. The disability is progressive and at present it is more than 70 per cent and he fulfills the conditions laid in two clauses of the said notification. His age is 83, which itself is sufficient to consider releasing him by giving benefit of the notification.”

What the center’s
policy July 18,2018 is?

As part of
commemoration of 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, the following
categories of prisoners will be considered for special remission and released
in three phases. In Phase-l, the prisoners will be released on 2nd October,
2018 (Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi), in Phase-ll prisoners will be
released on 10th April, 2019 (Anniversary of Champaran Satyagraha) and in
Phase-Ill, prisoners will be released on 2nd October 2019 (Birth Anniversary of
Mahatma Gandhi): –

(a)    Women convicts of 55 years of age and
above, who have completed 50% of their actual sentence period.

(b)        Transgender convicts of 55 years of age
and above, who have completed 50% of their actual sentence period.

(c)        Male convicts of 60 years of age and
above, who have completed 50% of their actual sentence period.

(d)       Physically challenged/disabled convicts
with 70% disability and more who have completed 50% of their actual sentence

(e)        Terminally ill convicts.

(f)        Convicted prisoners who have completed
two-third (66%) of their actual sentence period.      

Special remission will not be given to prisoners who have been convicted for an offence for which the sentence is – sentence of death or where death sentence has been commuted to life imprisonment; Cases of convicts involved in serious and heinous crimes like Dowry death, Rape, Human Trafficking and convicted under POTA, UAPA, TADA, FICN, POCSO Act, Money Laundering, FEMA, NDPS, Prevention of Corruption Act, etc.

Now the ball is in the court of Delhi’s AAP government.  Seeing the overhead next Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in Haryana and hoping for a tie –up with O P Chautala’s own grandsons recently raised Jannayak Janta Party (JJP), however an opponent of O P Chautala’s INLD, in these elections, Kejriwal government will think twice while recommending a note on Chautala’s application of release. Political analysts conclude that in both ways there is a political risk to AAP-JJP alliance in the state. If Delhi government gives positive recommendations and Chautala gets out of jail, he will certainly reenergize the dozing Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and warm up its workers losing hopes, which may mar the winning chances of AAP-JJP alliance in Haryana.

And if Kejriwal government turns down the release plea, it will undoubtedly create anger and resentment towards AAP-JJP entente and sympathy for INLD among the Jat voters of Haryana. Already there is a resentment in the rural area against the Delhi government’s alleged decision to obstruct Chautala’s furlough application just before Jind by-elections on January 28,2019, which reflected in transferring of the INLD votes seeing the lesser chances of win for INLD candidate to the defeater (BJP) to obstruct the winning path of AAP-JJP alliance candidate, Digvijay Singh Chautala – a rebellion from INLD. The second decision of Delhi government may force the INLD leadership to have a tie-up with BJP or in case of failure of any alliance with BJP, it may again agitate INLD voters   to transfer their votes to BJP instead of supporting their own ground losing candidates to defeat INLD’s main political enemy JJP and thus make the win for BJP easy and accessible.

party leaders had publicized during Jind election that AAP-JJP alliance had
obstructed the furlough of EX-CM O P Chautala to keep him away from the
election.  They alleged that initially,
the INLD chief was to be released on furlough on January 22, ahead of Jind
by-poll. However, the release was postponed to January 29, that is, after the
elections with the condition that he shall not attend any political meeting and
shall not indulge in political activities during the period of furlough.

Attacking the JJP and AAP and accusing the former Chief Minister O P Chautala’s own grandson, Member of Parliament Dushyant Chautala, of backstabbing his own grandfather the state INLD president Ashok Arora had alleged, “It is clear that AAP government in Delhi along with Dushyant and Digvijay have played a role in denial of furlough. They have stooped to a new low by doing this.”


Now if we
see the objections raised by Delhi government’s counsel Rahul Mehra   before the Delhi High Court on Wednesday
while opposing the release plea on the ground that he (Chautala) was convicted
for corruption which was a serious offence, it creates suspicion that Kejriwal
government would recommend a favorable note. Whatever the decision may be, but
surely it will have a long way effect on INLD and also on AAP-JJP alliance future.