Jayalalithaa’s disproportionate assets case: Only Karnataka can file the appeal in Supreme Court
-Dr. Abdul Ruff
Supreme Court of India has now made it clear that Karnataka alone can file the appeal in Supreme Court on Jayalalithaa’s disproportionate assets case. It appears Tamil Nadu CM J. Jayalalithaa is trying to prolong her disproportionate assets case in the courts.
Arguments in the disproportionate assets case against Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, J Jayalalithaa continued before the Supreme Court with Karnataka pointing out to the delays in the case.
Special Public Prosecutor for Karnataka and senior counsel B V Acharya put up a passionate argument stating that Jayalalithaa had done everything to delay the case which dragged on for nearly 18 years. Karnataka is challenging the order which acquitted Jayalalithaa and three others.
Acharya brought on record the argument regarding the locus standi of Karnataka in filing the appeal. Since the case was originally filed in Tamil Nadu, Jayalalithaa had contested the right of Karnataka in filing the appeal in the Supreme Court. Acharya said that this has been discussed and well settled earlier as well.
Acharya said that there had been so much delay in the case that 76 witnesses had turned hostile. Further he said that there should be no further delays. It may be recalled that the trial court had observed that she had become a Chief Minister twice during the pendency of the case.
Hearing on the matter will continue. Special Public Prosecutor, B V Acharya has been asked to furnish details of the loans taken by Jayalalithaa.
While the trial court in Bangalore had convicted her and three others, the Karnataka High Court reversed the order. The trial court had issued a ‘thorough’ verdict after considering all facts and evidences on record. The high court on the other hand ensured that a good case collapsed as it did not record any reason for the reversal of the verdict and also committing a crucial arithmetic error.
Acharya also drew the attention of the Supreme Court of how Karnataka the prosecuting state in the case was not given a fair chance before the high court. He said that Karnataka despite being the prosecuting state was given a very short notice to prepare the arguments. Moreover the arguments were to be in written form. Further Acharya also noted that the Karnataka High Court had not even considered the written arguments submitted by them. Had the arguments been considered then the High Court would have not reversed the order of the trial court.
Moreover the arithmetic error that led to the ‘acquittal’ too would not have happened, Acharya further noted. The high court has also not gone into why it was reversing the order of the trial court, Acharya pointed out.
First and foremost it was the Supreme Court which transferred the case to Karnataka, having been satisfied with the argument that CM Jayalalithaa would influence the judges in if held in Tamil Nadu. After the trial was held the appeal was filed in the Karnataka High Court. Both the division bench of the Karnataka High Court and Supreme Court had held that Karnataka is the prosecuting agency. This is a settled matter and we are well within our right to file an appeal in the Supreme Court, Acharya further contended.
J Jayalalithaa, the chief minister of Tamil Nadu and three others were acquitted by the Karnataka High Court following which an appeal was preferred. Karnataka, as per the directive of the Supreme Court, will place on record the loan details in relation to the disproportionate assets case. Special Public Prosecutor for Karnataka, B V Acharya placed before the Supreme Court on March 16 the loan details and also point out that the High Court had made certain errors in the totaling of the loans. The High Court had said that the loan component in Jayalalithaa’s wealth was Rs 24.17 crore. However, Karnataka had contended that if the loan table is added up it comes up to Rs 10,67 crore.
Karnataka states that the judgment of the High Court mentions six other loans availed by entities linked to Jayalalithaa, but do not find a mention in the table of loans which is part of the High Court order. Karnataka states out of these five loans were given by the Indian Bank branch, Abiramapuram, Chennai, while the sixth was extended by Indian Bank Thiruvarur branch.
The High Court while acquitting Jayalalithaa and three others had said that Rs 24.17 crore loans had been wrongly attributed as income by both the trial court and also the prosecution. The court held that this had led to the assets being inflated. Justice Kumaraswamy while delivering the verdict said, ‘It is crystal clear that Accused Nos. 1 to 4, firms and companies has borrowed loans to the tune of Rs 24, 17, 31,274.’
the High Court had also ruled the percentage of disproportionate assets is 8.12%, which is ‘relatively small’. In the instant case, the disproportionate asset is less than 10% and it is within permissible limit’.
Acharya during his submissions on this aspect would point out to the Supreme Court that there is Rs 13.50 crore missing. This figure has been arrived at by subtracting the Rs 24.17 crore and Rs 10, 67. The Rs 13.50 crore is missing according to the chart of the bank loans which has been included in the judgment. Acharya would argue that the disproportionate assets is actually Rs 16.32 crore ie Rs 13.50 crore and Rs 2.82 crore. This amounts to over 76 per cent of her known source of income, Acharya would tell the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court which heard the hearing the appeal filed by the Karnataka government on February 24 challenging the acquittal of Tamil Nadu chief minister, J Jayalalithaa in the disproportionate assets case sought for a clarification on certain figures. The point in question is the marriage expenses of her adopted son V Sudhakaran who was also an accused in this case before he was acquitted by the Karnataka High Court.
The confusion pertains to the marriage expense which the prosecution had stated by Jayalalithaa was at Rs 6.45 crore. This was a submission that the prosecution had made before the trial court in Bengaluru which had convicted Jayalalithaa and others. As per the prosecution the amount was Rs 6.45 crore, but the trial court reduced the amount by Rs 3 crore as there was no evidence for the rest. However, when the trial court heard this matter it had said that there was not enough evidence regarding the entire sum. It had said that there was no evidence for the Rs 3 crore. The marriage expense arrived at by the trial court was then at Rs 3 crore. The trial court had brought down the total wedding expenditure claimed by the prosecution from Rs 6.45 crore to Rs 3 crore. It said evidence established that the expenses were paid for by Jayalalithaa herself. The Supreme Court sought a clarification about the Rs 45 lakh. Hence, now the SC has sought to know about the balance Rs 45 lakh as the prosecution had originally claimed before the trial court.
Meanwhile, political commentators watch closely what kind of impact the illegal asset case would have on the prospects of poll fortunes or otherwise of CM Jayalalithaa and her ruling party AIADMK.