‘Disproportionate assets’ haunt CM Jayalalithaa as Supreme Court reserves judgment!
-Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal
The successful return to power for the second consecutive time has not really made CM Jayalalithaa happy as her disproportionate assets case makes her feel ‘vulnerable’ again. Wrong computation by the judge Kumaraswamy saved her once, acquitting her from jail in Bangalore, but the final judgment could take her back to jail.
With only a few days left then for the final hearing on appeals against the acquittal of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa to commence in the Supreme Court, the Karnataka government on January 20, 2016 filed point-by-point highlights of the “errors” made by the Karnataka High Court in deciding the disproportionate assets case in favour of the AIADMK leader and three co-accused.
The seven-page document listed 16 points of contention against the May 11, 2015judgment of Justice C.R. Kumaraswamy which led to the exoneration of Ms. Jayalalithaa, N. Sasikala Natarajan, V.N. Sudhakaran and J. Elavarasi in the corruption case. Principally, the State government asks whether the bare fact that it was neither considered nor ignored as the “sole prosecuting agency” in the corruption case would not by itself vitiate the High Court judgment.
The State wants the Supreme Court to address what would be the effect of not repairing this omission throughout the appeal hearings in the High Court till they were disposed of.
The State’s document, filed by advocate Joseph Aristotle and settled by senior advocate B.V. Acharya, asks whether the appeals were not vitiated as the duly appointed Public Prosecutor was “never given the opportunity” of an oral hearing. His role was reduced to just handing over written submission, that too on the orders of the Supreme Court, at the fag end of the appeals in the High Court.
The State government pointed out that the acquittal can be set aside by just correcting the “totaling mistake” to show that the value of disproportionate assets of the accused comes to Rs. 16.32 crore, that is 76.7 per cent of the income, against the 8.12 per cent arrived at by the High Court. “Consequently, the judgment of acquittal is liable to be converted into one of conviction even as per the purported principle in Krishnanand Agnihotri’s case,” the State government contended.
The Supreme Court on June 07 reserved its judgment on the petition filed by the Karnataka Government and others against acquittal of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa in the disproportionate assets case.
The apex court has asked the Karnataka Government and other respondents to file their written submissions by June 10. The vacation bench comprising Justices PC Ghose and Amitava Roy had in the matter last week heard at length the Special Public Prosecutor of Karnataka.
The AIADMK chief was convicted by a trial court of misusing her position as the Chief Minister between 1991 and 1996 to amass disproportionate assets of nearly Rs 67 crore. The Karnataka High Court overturned that verdict and acquitted her last year.
Earlier, the Apex Court had adjourned the hearing on Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa`s disproportionate assets case to March 10. The Karnataka Government had filed an appeal in the apex court, challenging the High Court`s order acquitting Jayalalithaa in the case. The apex court allowed Jayalalithaa`s counsels to file compilation of original documents and evidences.
The AIADMK chief had to resign as the chief minister following her conviction and sentence of four-year jail term with Rs. 100 crore fine under various the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act and others by a Bengaluru court on September 27, 2014.
CM Jayalalithaa had earlier sought the adjournment of the appeals against her acquittal in a disproportionate assets case, which was scheduled on February 2. Accordingly, a bench led by Justice P.C. Ghose agreed to postpone the hearing to February 23.
Chief Minister Jayalalithaa launched a full frontal attack on the authority of the Karnataka government to move the Supreme Court against her acquittal in a disproportionate assets case, labeling it as“interference in the internal affairs of Tamil Nadu” and a violation of the federal scheme enshrined in the Constitution.
However the court overruled her objections.
Now the Apex Court has not specified any date for the next hearing.