A sessions court on Monday adjourned till 10 March the next hearing in the defamation case filed against DMK chief M Karunanidhi by Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa. Karunanidhi, 92, appeared before the court on Monday and has been granted exemption from personal appearance for the next date. The Tamil Nadu state assembly polls are scheduled in May and political combinations are being discussed as Jayalalithaa exhorts her cadre to "destroy" the Opposition. Jaya swept aside rivals by a huge margin in 2011.
"What was defaming is not known to them (to the government) nor to us. Only the government should say what it is that it found defaming," Karunanidhi said while coming out of a swift court appearance.
Principal Sessions Judge N Audhinathan had in December 2015 directed Karunanidhi to appear before the court on January 18 in connection with an alleged defamatory article published in DMK party mouthpiece 'Murasoli' in November 2015 about the AIADMK government's four-year rule.
Karunanidhi said the defamation case is an attempt to threaten publications that do not support Ms Jayalalithaa's ruling AIADMK.
The case was filed in November last year after the DMK mouthpiece Murasoli reproduced an article first published in a popular Tamil magazine "Anantha Vikadan." The chief minister has alleged that the article is defamatory.
DMK cadre thronged the court premises with police making tight security arrangements. DMK party lawyers were also present. Karunanidhi, who enjoys 'Z' category security status, was escorted by a posse of security staffers.
DMK leaders including Karunanidhi's son MK Stalin, daughter and Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi, Arcot Veerasami, grand nephew Dayanidhi Maran and TR Baalu also marked attendance.
The court had also summoned Murasoli's Editor, Printer and Publisher S Selvam to appear on the same day in this regard.
The party's legal wing secretary R Girirajan had asked party lawyers to be present in the principal sessions court in good number as a show of strength.
Amid speculation that Mr Karunanidhi's 62-year-old son MK Stalin will take on Ms Jayalalithaa this year for the chief minister's post, the party and Mr Stalin have insisted that it will be Mr Karunanidhi who will be chief minister for a sixth term if the party returns to power.
The Tamil Nadu line-up
There's not much change in the Tamil Nadu star cast, although the combinations may vary. Two dominant parties — AIADMK led by Jayalalithaa and DMK led by Karunanidhi and son Stalin, and the rest of them. People’s Welfare Front (PWF) is a newbie formed by Left parties, GK Vasan has broken off from the Congress and formed his Tamil Maanila Congress, DMDK is led by Vijayakanth, a former film star, most recently in the news for spitting at journalists. Vijayakanth's cadre is mounting the pressure on him to tie up with DMK.
PMK, led by Ramadoss, has found a new anti-Jaya fix: How much does the TN govt spend on broadcasting her radio messages to the public? The Congress has done a BJP on Jaya, whipping out a 'corruption booklet' with a list of alleged scams by the Jaya government. The BJP brought out a similar booklet against the Congress on the National Herald case.
In one massive blow, Jaya knocked out the Opposition in the most recent Assembly and Lok Sabha elections. The Jaya led AIADMK won 203 of 234 seats contested in the last assembly elections in 2011.
The party’s vote share jumped from 39.91 per cent it polled in 2006 to 51.8 percent.
The DMK front saw a five percentage point swing away from it. From 44.75 percent in 2006, its vote share dipped to 39.44 percent.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Jaya wiped out the Opposition with AIADMK winning 37 of 39 seats.
Yes, Tamil Nadu votes differently in Lok Sabha and Assembly elections, but if you choose to keep it simple, a top Jaya government official says it best: AIADMK will always have that 33-35 percent, DMK will take 20 percent, Congress, DMDK and PMK another 25 percent all put together. As long as Jayalalithaa stays open to allies and the more ways the Opposition vote gets split, Jaya gains.
Jaya DA case comes up in SC on 2 Feb
For Jayalalithaa, the court rounds are not over yet. The Supreme Court decided to commence final hearing from February 2 on various appeals including the one filed by Karnataka against acquittal of AIADMK Chief and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa and others in the disproportionate assets case.
"We will start the hearing from February 2 and will hear the matter on 3 and 4 February as well," a bench comprising justices P C Ghose and Amitava Roy said.
The bench, meanwhile, asked the counsel for both the parties to file the "issues" highlighting main points to be considered within the next two weeks.
Earlier the apex court had agreed to conduct day-to-day hearing on the appeals filed against the Karnataka High Court verdict acquitting Jayalalithaa and three others in the case.
On 27 July, the apex court had issued notices on Karnataka government's appeal seeking stay of the high court judgement, to Jayalalithaa, her close aide Sasikala and two of her relatives, VN Sudhakaran and Elavarasi, and asked them to file their replies within eight weeks.
The apex court had allowed an intervention application by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy in the matter and had asked him to file issues he wished to press before it.
The Karnataka HC had on May 11, 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 order, claimed that HC 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 per cent.
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.