SC dismisses Chautalas’ plea against conviction in JBT teachers’ recruitment scam

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a plea by former Haryana chief minister Om Prakash Chautala, his son Ajay Chautala, and others, challenging the Delhi High Court verdict that upheld their conviction and sentencing in the 2000 JBT teachers’ recruitment scam.

Photo Credits: The Indian Express
Photo Credits: The Indian Express

A bench of Justice Fakkir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla and Justice Shiva Kirti Singh, while dismissing a batch of petitions by Chautalas and nine others, said: “We are not inclined to entertain any of the petitions. They are dismissed.”

The verdict came after senior counsel Harish Salve, appearing for Chautalas, sought to shift the blame on the officials, saying there was nothing wrong with the government decision to recruit the JBT teachers but things went wrong in the implementation of the decision.

In his argument lasting nearly 50 minutes, he compared it with the Vyapam scam in Madhya Pradesh, saying that creation of the Vyapam board was not a conspiracy but down the line it was hijacked by the officers and was exploited.

Contending that there was no conspiracy in the decision to fill the teachers vacancies, Salve said: “Something that started as a sensible decision was hijacked by someone and loopholes exploited the way, can we say, the setting up of Vyapam in Madhya Pradesh was not a conspiracy but somebody hijacked it mid-way and exploited it.”

Besides dismissing the plea by Chautalas, the apex court also dismissed the plea by Yogesh Kumar Sharma, Bihari Lal, Darshan Dayal Verma, Anar Singh, Ajit Singh Sangwan, Ram Kumar, Raksha Jindal, Sudha Sachdeva, and Abhilash Kaur seeking respective reliefs.

At the outset of the hearing as Salve commenced his arguments, the court said that it had already declined their plea by its May 15 order. But as Salve referred to the order, the court said it was for Ajay Chautala to make an appropriate application for availing medical assistance in view of the report of the medical board.

The Delhi High Court, while upholding the jail term of Chautalas, on March 5 had said that they “deserved punishment of the highest kind” as they had cheated the youth of Haryana.

Dismissing appeals by the Chautalas, and others, the high court had said: “Education is a tool, which can be skilfully used by competent teachers to model the youth (our most precious human resource) in their formative years, to enable them to become productive citizens in future and herald India to epitome of success.

“Yet the instant case demonstrates how the process of appointing competent teachers was also vilified and not spared from the malaise of corruption. Such scams not only result in dissemination of poor quality education to the millions of children, who are bound to suffer, but also unfairly deprive the competent participants in such selection processes an opportunity to gain public employment and meaningfully serve the country.

“Public confidence is bound to get shaken, resulting in frustration/anxiety amongst the youth, who eagerly await the scarce employment opportunities, giving further impetus to the culture of corruption.”

Chautalas and 55 others including two IAS officers were convicted on January 16, 2013 by a Delhi court for illegally recruiting 3,206 JBTs in year 2000 in Haryana when the elder Chautala was the chief minister.