Chandigarh: Former Haryana chief minister and Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) supreme leader Om Prakash Chautala, who is lodged in Delhi’s Tihar jail, is likely to be transferred to the Bathinda district prison in Punjab, according to the government sources.
Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal and he are close friends with strong family relations. Even though in Punjab, Badal’s Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) is an ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), in neighbouring Haryana, it supports the INLD in the elections. In the 2014 assembly contests, Badal and his son, SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal, had put the BJP in a tight corner in Haryana by canvassing for the INLD candidates.
The Punjab government has received a communication from the Arvind Kejriwal state government in Delhi that “convict Om Prakash Chautala, son of Devi Lal, has sought transfer from Tihar to the Bathinda jail”. In an August 14 letter to the Punjab home department, the deputy secretary (home) of the Delhi government has enclosed a copy of “letter number 5466 dated 11.08.2015” received from the superintendent of jail 2 in Tihar. It accompanies an application from “the wife of convict Om Prakash Chautala” seeking his transfer.
The Delhi government’s communication (HT has a copy) reads: “Please refer to the subject cited above (reciprocal transfer of Chautala)… with the request to furnish your comments/consent in the light of the above referred letter of the prison department to this government, so that further action could be taken accordingly.” After receiving this letter on August 18, the Badal administration has fast-tracked the matter and moved it to the Punjab jail department to complete the formalities before giving consent to the Delhi government.
Chautala has sought transfer to Bathinda jail, specifically, apparently as his Teja Khera village in Haryana’s Sirsa district is adjoining Bathinda district. The Chautala transfer case is unlikely to hit any legal hurdle, since the Punjab prison manual says: “A prisoner who is a police registered criminal, not being a native of the state in which he is undergoing sentence, may be removed by order of the inspector general of prisons of the state in which he has been undergoing sentence, at any time not exceeding two months prior to his release, either to the prison of the district to which he belongs or to the prison nearest to his native place.”
In January 2013, a Delhi court had convicted Chautala, his MLA son, Ajay Chautala, and 53 others of recruiting more than 3,000 junior teachers illegally in 2,000. The 10-year jail term has made the father-son duo ineligible for contesting elections for six years after the sentence ends.
The Supreme Court has also dismissed Chautala’s plea that challenged the conviction and the sentence awarded.