The Supreme Court Wednesday observed the system ensures VIP convicts spend more time in hospitals than jail. The court,turning down the plea of former Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala to extend his bail for medical reasons,observed that high-profile accused often tend to go to hospitals the moment they are held guilty of crimes.
Chautala,78,had been sentenced to 10 years for illegally recruiting over 3,000 junior teachers in Haryana in 2000. His son Ajay Chautala was among nine convicted. They appealed in the Delhi High Court,which recently directed Chautala to surrender on September 17 after a medical board said he did not need hospitalisation.
He was earlier allowed bail on medical grounds. Ajay Chautala,too,had been released on medical grounds.
The moment a big person is convicted,he wants to get hospitalised. So many other convicts suffer. The system will be a failure if we encourage this, said a bench of Justices H L Dattu and S J Mukhopadhaya.
The court commented,Such cases make us question if doctors use high-sounding words for common diseases only for high-profile convicts. When they get power,do they ever say they dont want it because they suffer from diseases?
The court told the senior INLD leader: You are supposed to be in jail till you get regular bail,or are acquitted. Suspension of sentence on account of medical treatment is not permissible. Otherwise,jail will only be for healthy people. Status cannot be a factor.
It made a reference to Gujarat police officer P P Pandey,who remained elusive after being named as accused in fake encounter killing of Ishrat Jahan and three others. Media has rightly reported it. This man comes on a stretcher on the first day (in the trial court for bail hearing),on a wheelchair on the second day and finally the moment his bail is denied,he gets up and runs away from the court, it said.
Senior advocate U U Lalit said the High Court had been gracious to speed up hearing. The bench said: No,it is special treatment and not just being gracious. Are we justified in doing it only because some big names appear? It doesnt give a better name to the system.
The court dismissed Chautalas petition and granting him concession of six more days,ordered him to surrender by
September 23 without fail. It added jail authorities will give
him proper,effective,efficient and expert medical assistance,if required.