The Disproportionate Assets case against Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa comes up for hearing Friday 8 January in the Supreme Court even as one of the bench hearing appeals filed against the acquittal of Jayalalithaa has been changed.
The case against Jayalalithaa has a 19-year history dating back to the time when the then DMK government initiated a probe into her wealth and assets during her tenure as Chief Minister between 1991 and 1996. A prolonged legal battle later, with the defence coming under heavy criticism from the Supreme Court for delaying proceedings, Judge Michael Cunha of the Special Court in Karnataka delivered a verdict in September 2014, finding Jayalalithaa guilty of holding disproportionate assets and corruption. She was handed a four year jail sentence and slapped with a Rs 100 crore fine.
Jayalalithaa spent 21 days in jail, was forced to resign as Chief Minister and came out on bail citing ill-health. A self-imposed exile followed where she confined herself to her Poes Garden home for the next eight months, re-emerging only after the Karnataka High Court exonerated her of all charges.
The Bench hearing appeals in the this case in the Supreme Court had Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose as the lead judge and Justice R.K. Aggarwal as the puisne judge. Now, Justice Amitava Roy has taken the place of Justice Aggarwal on the Bench for the hearing scheduled for Friday, reports The Hindu.
In the last hearing on November 23, the apex court had asked the parties to file responses they wanted to highlight in their arguments to prevent any delay and add focus. Justice Ghose, speaking for the Bench, had indicated that a date to hear the final arguments in the appeals may be fixed on January 8.
“It will be a day-to-day hearing,” Justice Ghose said during the November hearing.
“Both of you (parties) settle among yourselves and give us the issues need to be decided by us, so that it can be heard quickly and disposed of at the earliest,” the bench said, adding it would hear the matter on “day-to-day basis“
During the hearing on October 12, 2015, the Supreme Court had assured that every party would get one chance to have its say in the case.
During that hearing, senior advocate L. Nageshwara Rao, for Jayalalithaa, had urged the apex court that “whatever the date may be... The appeals should be heard early”.
In its appeal against the State High Court’s decision to acquit the accused persons, the Karnataka government said the judgment delivered on May 11 by Justice C.R. Kumaraswamy was “cryptic, lacks reasoning and illogical”. It questioned the calculations by the judge, which resulted in the freeing of Ms.Jayalalithaa and three co-accused – N. Sasikala Natarajan, V.N. Sudhakaran and J. Elavarasi - in the corruption case.
Jayalalithaa's counter in the SC had said the charges of conspiracy and abetment made against her are not established and at best a “myth”.
Karnataka said the accused do not have any “untrammelled right not to be vexed again once there is an order of acquittal”.