Indian corruption: Jayalalithaa’s illegal assets case: Karnataka govt moves Supreme Court!
-Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal
Even while Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Ms Jayalalithaa is reportedly on her way to win an assembly seat from Chennai to fulfill the Election Commission requirement to continue as CM, Karnataka government is knocking at the Supreme Court to get the KHC’s acquittal order releasing Jaya from Bangalore jail, quashed.
Saying that the Karnataka government described it as a farce and J Jayalalithaa, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, was wrongly found “innocent” in one of worst ever corruption cases, and today moved the Supreme Court, challenging her acquittal by Karnataka High Court (KHC).
The nearly two-decades-old case against the former movie star was transferred from Tamil Nadu to neighbouring Karnataka in 2003 to ensure the trial would not be impacted by the influence of either Ms Jayalalithaa or her political opponents. However, Jaya got a clean chit from KHC exactly as wanted. Chennai or Bengaluru did not make any difference at all. Justice Kumaraswamy delivered a fake judgment, seemingly deliberately.
Special Court judge Michael D Cunha had on September 27 last held Jayalalithaa and three others guilty of corruption and awarded four years jail term, due to which she attracted disqualification as an MLA that divested her of Chief Ministership. The judge had also slapped a fine of Rs 100 crore on the AIADMK chief and Rs 10 crore each on three other convicts.
In May, the Karnataka High Court found that there was “no evidence” that while in office, Ms Jayalalithaa had accumulated more than Rs. 60 crore that could not be explained by her declared income. At the time, she famously drew Rs. 1 as a monthly salary. Justice C R Kumaraswamy (hailing from Tamil Nadu) of the Karnataka High Court had set aside the trial court’s judgment which had sentenced Jayalalithaa and three others to four years in jail and allowed the appeals by all the four convicts. The judge said that her wealth had increased by about 10 per cent during her first term, which was permissible. In its appeal today, the Karnataka government has said the judge’s math was faulty.
The verdict allowed Ms Jayalalithaa to return as Chief Minister eight months after she was forced to resign when a lower court in Bangalore found her guilty in the same case and sentenced her to four years in prison. She is contesting a bye-election in Tamil Nadu later this month to re-enter the Tamil Nadu legislature. Jayalalithaa has declared that she has total assets worth Rs 117.13 crore. She declared her assets while filing nominations for the June 27 by-poll to Radhakrishnan Nagar assembly constituency in Chennai.
Ms Jayalalithaa returned to office as Chief Minister in May after she was found not guilty of amassing wealth that could not be accounted for by her declared sources of income during her first term as head of the state government in the early 90s.
Her three-week incarceration in September in a Karnataka jail plunged thousands of her supporters in mourning. Public buses were set on fire. Nearly 300 people killed themselves in protest, her party, the AIADMK, which, having successfully used the illiterate poor Tamils as a powerful tool has claimed as victory for their “Amma”…
The Karnataka High Court gave a clean chit to Jayalalithaa and three others on May 11, clearing them of “all charges” in the 19-year-old case. In the petition, Karnataka government has termed Jayalalithaa’s acquittal illegal. With Supreme Court taking cognizance of the State High Court’s faulty verdict acquitting Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, her disproportionate assets cases back to haunt her and AIADMK.
Central government run with corrupt politicians allows corrupt politicians in states to conduct themselves in a corrupt manner not recommend by the Indian constitution. It seems corruption with which India has been afflicted badly for years of misrule could stay intact notwithstanding all anti-corruption laws and powerful the anti-corruption movement led by Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal. It is primarily because the ruling dispensation of India as well as top political parties and politicians promotes this evil as an unwritten policy of Indian corporatist regime.
The governments and political parties refuse to acknowledge that rampant corruption they are promoting to make wealth illegally harms the nation, hampers the life patterns of common masses. That is why there is a concerted effort by central government and corporate lords to weaken the Kejriwal’s AAP (Common man’s Party) in Delhi state and obstruct his efforts to cleanse the Delhi polity by containing the corrupt elements.
AIADMK’s bitter rival DMK had raised the pitch for filing the appeal against acquittal while the original petitioner Subramanian Swamy had also said he would move the Supreme Court if Karnataka does not challenge the High Court verdict. In a way, Karnataka government has preempted both sources wanting to contest the acquittal in the apex court.
Ms Jayalalithaa’s arch rival, former CM M Karunanidhi of the DMK who possibly thinks his time is up in politics, said last week that the Karnataka government must file an appeal against her acquittal. He said in a statement that the DMK too would file its own appeal in the Supreme Court. In the national election last year, the DMK did not win a single seat in Tamil Nadu. Ms Jayalalithaa’s party, the AIADMK, won 37 of the state’s 39, to be the third largest party in the Lok Sabha, (lower house of parliament) after the BJP and the Congress.
Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram, an eminent lawyer himself at Supreme Court, backed Karnataka Special Public Prosecutor B V Acharya’s advice to file an appeal against the acquittal of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa in the disproportionate assets case. His comments in support of appeal in the apex court comes in the wake of Acharya and Advocate General Ravivarma Kumar advising the state government to file an appeal against the acquittal of Jayalalithaa, while the legal cell of ruling Congress in the state advising against filing an appeal.
Opposition parties in Tamil Nadu welcomed Karnataka government’s decision to appeal against Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa’s acquittal in a disproportionate assets case, with DMK terming it as the “right” step by the ruling Congress. Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) President M Karunanidhi, besides other leaders, had been urging Karnataka government to appeal against Jayalalithaa’s acquittal.
The Karnataka government’s decision to file an appeal against the acquittal of J Jayalalithaa, whose PM dream during the parliamentary poll was crushed by Narendra Modi, may not have surprised the ruling AIADMK and its supremo, but it will certainly bring back the uncertainty over her political future.
The Supreme Court is likely to stay the faulty KHC verdict. Now that this 19-year-old case will move again against Jayalalithaa, it won’t be an easy ride for her henceforth. Buoyed by the acquittal, she was back in the office and was moving fast with a number of welfare and development projects ahead of the by-election she is planning to contest. The appeal may affect her stint in the office.
More trouble seems to be waiting for AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa. The case was fit enough for appeal because the High Court verdict allegedly based itself on wrong financial figures. It has been pointed out that the numbers and the reason for her acquittal do not match. Correcting the figures without appropriately revising the judgment that was based on the wrong figures wouldn’t have been sustainable. Since the HC couldn’t revise its own judgment, there was no possibility of correcting the figures alone. Moreover, the special public prosecutor in the case, BV Acharya has been re-inducted who wanted the government to go on appeal.
If the final verdict goes against her, which is quite logical, once again her minister O Panneerselvam would resume power in Madras Fort. Let the apex court not worry about power struggle politics in Tamil Nadu in the delivery of justice to India which suffers owing to rampant corruption affecting the life of common people.
As the Supreme Court is expected to give a stay order on the High court judgment and proceed with adjudication, reports suggest the highly influential Jayalalithaa, who deliberately uses uneducated poor party people as a political shield, would also file a case in the Supreme Court but no details available.
Obviously, a person who powerfully influenced the High court and got all punishments withdrawn is no ordinary manipulator. It is also quite possible that judge Kumaraswami delivered a quick but faulty judgment in order to help Jaya resume power and reacquire the right to contest. Undoubtedly no one, lawyer or judge, renders such a huge-huge service to billionaire Jayalalithaa for free.
Now the focus is on the Supreme Court if it would stay the flawed HC order or let Jayalalithaa enjoy her newly found chief ministership longer. Speculation, as you say, is indeed thrilling.
Will Jaya somehow manage a win in Supreme Court as well? Speculation is indeed thrilling One, however, has to wait for the final judgment of Supreme Court.