The Supreme Court on Monday struck down the appointment of Special Public Prosecutor Bhavani Singh and declared that the interference of the Tamil Nadu government in his appointment was a manifestation of the government’s “anxiety” about the future. The court held that Karnataka is the sole prosecuting agency in the pending appeals filed by the former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa, and three others against their conviction in the Rs. 66 crore disproportionate assets case.
A three-judge Bench, led by Justice Dipak Misra, directed the Karnataka government to file its written submissions by April 28 in the Karnataka High Court where the appeals are pending.
The Bench further directed the High Court judge to take no heed of the arguments made by Mr. Singh.
It, however, dismissed any need for having a fresh hearing of the appeals.
Justice Misra, reading out the judgment, reasoned that the proceedings so far held cannot be “abandoned solely because there was no proper assistance” from the prosecution. He observed that for the High Court judge “the filament of reasoning will naturally flow from a dispassionate viewing of the evidence”.
Justice Misra read out from the verdict in the open court, “We have not agreed with Justice Madan Lokur. There is no justification for fresh hearing, especially when the appeals have been heard at length and judgment is reserved. “
Asking the High Court judge to be vigilant about the “corroding effect of corruption” and the “gravity of the offence” against the accused in this case, the Bench said it was the duty of the judge to make a “complete and comprehensive evaluation and appreciation of the evidence in its entirety before renedering his judgment”.
The Bench advised the High Court to “dispassionately render a judgment which is objectively and resolutely expressed”.
The Bench was delivering the verdict on a reference made to it following a stalemate reached by an earlier Bench led by Justice Lokur on whether Mr. Singh had the authority to act as prosecutor in the appeals.
The Supreme Court, while extending Ms. Jayalalithaa’s bail, gave the Karnataka High Court time till may 12 to deliver its judgment on the appeals.
The case pertains to disproportionate assets to the tune of over Rs. 65 crore allegedly amassed by the accused during Ms. Jayalalithaa’s first tenure as Chief Minister during 1991-96.
TWISTS AND TURNS
- › The charges: Conspiracy: As CM, Jayalalithaa conspired with three others to acquire assets to the tune of Rs. 66.65 crore
- › Disproportionate Assets: The assets were disproportionate to her known income
- ›Abetment: The other three abetted the offence by acting as benami owners of 32 private firms
- › Prosecution’s take: Modus operandi was to deposit cash in benami firms’ accounts
- ›Prosecution’s take: The firms gave her address as theirs while opening accounts
- › Prosecution’s take: Ms. Jayalalithaa spent crores of rupees on renovations and constructions, her foster son’s wedding and possessed huge quantity of jewellery.
- › Counter: Prosecution born and out of malice and vendetta, many illegalities and defects in investigation. She had sufficient income form legal sources. Others were not benamidars.
- › Counter: No material to show sarees, watches and footwear seized were bought during her tenure.
- › Counter: Income-Tax authorities and Tribunals have accepted their returns and valuation of assets.
cerdit : thehindu