98-yr-old former min ordered to appear before court

98-year-old former Union minister Sheila Kaul, facing prosecution in a 1996 accommodation allotment scam, has been directed to appear before a Delhi court which refused to give her any further exemption, observing that the case has not moved an inch in 13 months.

Special CBI Judge Pradeep Chaddah directed that Kaul shall appear before it in person on April 3 for framing of charges.

“Orders were passed in the months of February 2012 directing framing of charges.

It has been 13 months and we hav e not moved an inch,” according to the court.

The order of the court came after Kaul’s counsel pleaded for exemption to her from personal appearance in the court and informed it that the Delhi High Court had last month rejected her plea against framing of corruption charges against her.

The court also refused to grant exemption on the ground that Kaul has moved the Supreme Court against the order of the high court but her petition is yet to be listed for hearing.

“File to come up for framing of charge on April 3. All the three accused (Kaul and her then additional private secretary Rajan Lala and private assistant R K Sharma) shall be appearing in person,” the court ordered.

Kaul, a Union urban development minister in P V Narasimha Rao’s cabinet, is accused of conspiring with Rajan Lala and R K Sharma for making out-of-turn allotments of government accommodations in return for monetary gains between 1992 and 1995.

The Special court had on February 2, 2012 held that prima facie a case was made out against them and decided to frame charges under various sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act as well as hatching criminal conspiracy under section 120-B of the Indian Penal Code.

Kaul, however, failed to appear before the court on various dates to either plead guilty or claim trial. She failed to turn up before the court on the plea that she is suffering from various ailments and is bed-ridden.

The court had in April 2012 even ordered constitution of an AIIMS medical board which examined Kaul and gave the opinion that she was of sound mind and was capable of understanding the questions put to her.

She had then moved the high court against framing of charges on the ground that mere misuse of discretionary quota did not constitute an offence.

The high court had rejected the plea saying when the misconduct is accompanied by the acts of accepting or obtaining or agreeing to accept or attempting to obtain gratification, it amounts to be an offence under various sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

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