New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday commenced final hearing on various appeals including the one filed by Karnataka against the acquittal of AIADMK Chief and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa and others in a disproportionate assets case.
A bench, comprising justices PC Ghose and Amitava Roy, asked senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for Karnataka government, to start arguments in the matter.
The Karnataka government is arguing the case as the trial was shifted from Tamil Nadu and a Bangalore court had convicted the accused including Jayalalithaa who had succeeded in her challenge before the High Court there.
Opening his arguments, Dave said there were glaring mistakes in the order of the Karnataka High Court acquitting Jayalalithaa and others which needed to be set aside.
"There are glaring mistakes in the order of the Karnataka High Court acquitting Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, which has to be set aside. The trial court has given a very reasoned order holding them guilty and needs to be upheld," Dave said.
He said the approach of the High Court was "very casual and troublesome" and would defeat the very motive of Prevention of Corruption Act (PC ACT).
Besides Jayalalithaa, others accquited by the High Court were her close aide Sasikala and her two relatives, VN Sudhakaran and Elavarasi.
Dave said Jayalalithaa was Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu from 24 June, 1991 to 13 May, 1996 and Sasikala and her two relatives had acted in conspiracy to amass huge wealth of Rs 53.60 crore disproportionate to their known sources of income. Dave said Sudhakaran had moved to Jayalalithaa's house in 1992 and was her foster son and his marriage was termed as a marriage of the century.
The bench, however, said "you must stick to the merit of the case and we are not concerned whether its marriage of the century or not. It is none of our concern," the bench said.
Dave continued with the arguments and said, "Case of the prosecution is that they all conspired together to properly utilise the disproportionate assets acquired by Jayalalithaa through a web of companies and firms." Dave further said that Karnataka government was aware of the fact that Jayalalithaa is a public figure and if she is right and innocent, she is liable to be acquitted.
"The High Court has never bothered to go into the reasoning and findings given by the trial court. It adopted a very casual approach. It went all together in a different tangent. Hence its order needs to be reversed," the senior advocate said.
Dave said the High Court's approach was not in consonance with the approach advocated by the Supreme Court all these years while dealing with the issue of corruption.
The FIR was lodged in 1996 but "the powerful people involved in the case subverted the system to their advantage" and eight companies were registered in a single day, he said.
"There are arguments that these companies are independent companies and you can't look into the transaction of these firms. Question is whose companies are these and who are the people running these companies," Dave alleged.
He said AIADMK chief and Sasikala were partners in two companies--Jaya Publication and Sasi Enterprise, and several transactions have taken place between these companies and other firms to "legitimise the disproportionate assets".
"It has now become a fashion for the politicians nowadays to accept ten's of crores from their cadres on birthdays to avoid Income Tax lense but here we are dealing with Prevention of Corruption Act.
"She was taking Rs 1 as salary and on the other hand she takes ten's of crore from her cadres as birthday gift. Is this a way? These are their defence and sometime these defence are even accepted by the court. Suitcase full of money are taken out of the house and deposited in various banks," he alleged.
He claimed that all the four accused were not blood relations and yet they were staying under a single roof just to manage everything through their web of companies.
The arguements of Dave remained inconclusive and will continue tomorrow.
On 27 July, last year the apex court had issued notices on Karnataka government's appeal seeking stay of the high court judgement to Jayalalithaa, Sasikala and her relatives VN Sudhakaran and Elavarasi, asking them to file their replies within eight weeks.
The apex court had earlier allowed an intervention application by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy in the matter and asked him to file the issues he wished to press before it.
The Karnataka HC had on 11 May, 2015 ruled that AIADMK supremo's conviction by special court suffered from infirmity and was not sustainable in law, clearing decks for her return as Tamil Nadu Chief Minister.
Karnataka government, in its plea against the 11 May last year order, claimed that HC had erred in computing disproportionate assets of the AIADMK leader.
The Karnataka government also asked whether the high court had "erred in law" by according benefit of doubt to Jayalalithaa in pursuance of a Supreme Court judgement holding that accused can be acquitted if his or her disproportionate assets were to the extent of ten percent.
The state government had also claimed that the high court has erred in overruling preliminary objections raised by it and added that the accused had filed their appeals against conviction without impleading Karnataka as a party.
The special court had in 2014 held Jayalalithaa guilty of corruption and sentenced her to four years imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs 100 crore.