Indian judiciary: Public prosecutor considers Jayalalithaa’s acquittal by court flawed!
-Dr. Abdul Ruff
The ADMK supremo and ex. CM of Tamil Nadu Jayalalithaa very effectively coerced the judiciary to deliver a judgment in her favor. T he credit for this unique achievement goes to her skillful multi-pronged strategy. She can also declare that money and contracts can do wonders in India.
Now that the AIADMK chief has been acquitted, her counsel B Kumar states that there is no impediment for her to become chief minister. Her party cadres and followers are keen that she does so at the earliest. The current Chief Minister O Panneerselvam is set to submit his resignation. Sources say that she is likely to be sworn in once again as CM on May 17. She may have to contest a by-election within six months, but that may well be a cakewalk for her. Jayalalithaa may now work on rebuilding and strengthening her party in the state once again.
Jayalalithaa was not present in Bangalore at the High Court as it pronounced her acquittal in the disproportionate assets case but it appears she knew the judgment beforehand. She stayed back home in Poes Garden in Chennai, but has reportedly been receiving updates via her party men and media reports. The AIADMK chief issued a statement saying, it was a victory for justice and defeat for those who had conspired to defame and malign her legacy and the legacy of her mentor MGR who was never charged with corruption.
AIADMK suffered a serious setback when she was convicted and if the conviction had been upheld on May 11, it would have shattered the party and led to the likely resurgence and return of the DMK. However, DMK which is now fragmented due to internal politics, is likely to face a tough time now that she has been freed of all charges. There is widespread speculation that Jaya will call for early elections, but her party men say she is likely to wait till May 2016.
All the welfare schemes that Jaya (Amma) had initiated had slowed down since she stepped down. For instance, there are 100 more Amma canteens that are in the pipeline, waiting to be launched. Though O Pannerselvam was her chosen man to be CM, he feared her and didn’t make major decisions during his tenure. In fact even in deciding simple matters he would consult her before making decisions. Initiatives like the Metro rail project and Global Investors Meet were held up as the government didn’t deliberately want to move them forward without her.
In a dramatic manner, Karnataka High Court has cleared the deck for former CM Jayalalithaa to return to power as CM. She can now return as Tamil Nadu chief minister but must be elected as a state law-maker within six months. The 67-year-old had quit office after her conviction last year.
AIADMK leader J Jayalalithaa’s cup of woes is just brimming over. Even as her supporters are still celebrating her acquittal, her political opponents and critics have raised doubts that Justice CR Kumaraswamy might have made huge errors in calculations while delivering his judgment yesterday. The errors render the whole basis of the judgment meaningless.
Jayalalithaa’s acquittal on May 11 by the Karnataka High Court has irked many legal luminaries and also provoked severe criticisms, including from senior lawyers. The public prosecutor BV Acharya has alleged that the court decision to declare J Jayalalithaa not guilty in a corruption case may have been based on deeply flawed math. Mere assumptions cannot be the basis of judgments. “In terms of percentage there is a glaring arithmetical error,” he said.
The Karnataka High Court said that the Tamil politician Jaya had been “incorrectly charged” with accumulating wealth disproportionate to her known sources of income during her first term as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. She had said her monthly salary was just a rupee. The prosecution said that in five years, her assets including property and jewelry added up to 66 crores. But the judge in the judgment said that the prosecution had mixed up assets of firms owned by her with her personal wealth.
Justice CR Kumaraswamy, hailing from Tamil Nadu, found that after taking office, Ms Jayalalithaa’s wealth increased by about 8% – which was “relatively small” and “within the permissible limit of 10 per cent”. The prosecution claims that the rise in her illegal wealth was miscalculated and far exceeds the limit.
Prosecutor Acharya said according to page 852 of the Karnataka High Court judgment, the former Tamil Nadu chief minister’s loans add up to almost Rs. 11 crore, while the judge calculated her borrowings at 24 crores – around 13 crores more.
Jayalalithaa’s disproportionate assets, therefore, add up to around Rs. 16 crore and not Rs. 3 crore. “So her assets are disproportionate by 76% and not 8.12 (as stated by the judge). Since the glaring mistake has come to our notice only now, we are considering all options available,” said Acharya, who fought the case on behalf of the government of Karnataka, which is where the trial was shifted from Tamil Nadu in 2003 to ensure it would not be impacted by the politics of Ms Jayalalithaa’s home state.
As per the judgment, Jayalalithaa’s total assets stand at Rs 37 crore. Deducting the total income (Rs 34.77 crore) from this, the judge has arrived at a figure of Rs 2.82 crore. This figure shoots up to Rs 16 crore, once we replace the total income with the correct number of Rs 21.2 crore. As per this calculation, the percentage of disproportionate assets is a whopping 76.5 percent of Jayalalithaa’s income and not 8.12 percent as the judge has said in the judgment
Here’s another explanation of the judgment mistake. As per the table on Page 852 of the judgment, Jayalalithaa and her associates have taken loans worth Rs Rs 24.2 crore, which has been considered by the judge as lawful income. However, a simple addition of all the 10 heads in the table shows that the actual aggregate loan amount was only Rs 10.67 crore. This means there has been an error of about Rs 13.5 crore.
The correct calculation shows that the lawful income of Jayalalithaa would reduce by Rs 13.5 crore to just Rs 10.67 crore. The mistake has been pointed out by the DMK in a statement, according to media reports. Further, as per the judgment, about Rs 6 crore has been deducted from the loan amount as the income assessed by director of vigilance and anti-corruption, which reduces the loan amount to Rs 18.2 crore. According to a report in The News Minute, the loan amount has to be Rs 4.67 crore. Here too the error is Rs 13.5 crore, the report says. The error in the loan amount has a cascading impact as the figure had been used in many other calculations by the judge. On Page 913, in the statement of the income of the accused, the first head, loan as income, has been put at the said Rs 18.2 crore. Once this is replaced with Rs 4.67 crore, it again results in a mismatch of Rs 13.5 crore.
In other words, with a loan amount of just Rs 4.67 crore, the total income drops to Rs 21.2 crore from the judge’s figure of Rs 34.77 crore. The same is the case with calculation of disproportionate assets, where total income is subtracted from the total assets.
It may also explain why BJP leader Subramanian Swamy termed the judgment a “tragedy of arithmetic errors”. Dr. Subramanian Swamy said he would approach the Supreme Court against the judgment. “In my appeal to SC in JJ DA case, I will prove that the KHC judgment is a “tragedy of arithmetic errors”. JJ will have to resign again if CM. Subramanian Swamy, who started the ball rolling, is likely to appeal her acquittal in the Supreme Court. Jayalalithaa and her counsel will fight these charges. Will she be CM again or not? Speculations are indeed thrilling like in movies.
The prosecution has three months to appeal in the Supreme Court against Ms Jayalalithaa’s acquittal. Reports suggest there would many appeals at the apex court against the Karnataka High court in Bengaluru judgment on disproportionate assets of Jayalalithaa who actually belongs to Karnataka.