Bangalore: In a massive setback to former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa, the Karnataka High Court on Tuesday denied bail to her in a disproportionate assets case.
Rejecting her petition seeking immediate bail and also dismissing her plea for suspension of the four-year sentence awarded to her by the trial court, Justice AV Chandrashekhra said, “No ground for bail to Jayalalithaa.”
“There are no grounds to give bail as corruption amounts to violation of human rights and leads to economic imbalance," he added.
Observing that corruption had become a "serious malady in human history", the judge noted that the Supreme Court has repeatedly directed that graft cases should be disposed on top priority basis.
He held that there is no reason to extend the benefit of suspension of sentence to the four accused, including Jayalalithaa.
Citing a court judgment, Justice Chandrashekara said "the suspension of sentence and grant of bail cannot be asked as a matter of routine (saying) that the accused was on bail during the trial and did not misuse the liberties granted."
Justice Chandrashekhara further said if corruption is not dealt with seriously, "it will become a disease in our society."
Emotional scenes played out outside the court as AIADMK workers had started to celebrate prematurely after the public prosecutor told the the court that he is not opposed to 'conditional' bail to Jayalalithaa. However, the joyous scenes turned into gloom after the judge rejected the bail plea despite the prosecution not opposing it.
Jayalalithaa was represented by senior counsel Ram Jethmalani, who cited the bail granted to RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav after he was convicted in the fodder scam. The HC had refused bail to Lalu but it was granted by the Supreme Court, Jethmalani said.
In his 90-minute deposition, Jethmalani assured the judge that his client (Jayalalithaa) would abide by any condition put forth for bail, as she was a former chief minister and would not disappear or escape from the country.
"My client will take a call," senior counsel Ram Jethmalani, who appeared for Jayalalithaa, told PTI after the verdict when asked whether they will approach the Supreme Court.
The court also denied bail to her Jayalalithaa's aide Sasikala and her relatives VN Sudhakaran and Elavarasi, who were also convicted in the case.
Counsel Amit Desai, appearing for Sasikala and Sudhakaran, pleaded for bail and suspension of the sentence, telling the court that no witness talked of assets acquired by the accused and suspicion cannot take the place of evidence.
Jayalalithaa will now continue to be in custody in a Bangalore prison. A special court here had on September 27 had convicted Jayalalithaa in the Rs 66-crore disproportionate assets case and sentenced her to four years` simple imprisonment, with a fine of Rs 100 crore under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Prevention of Corruption Act.
Sasikala, Sudhakaran, the disowned foster son of the former Chief Minister, and Elavarasi were also sentenced to four years in jail, besides a fine of Rs 10 crore each.
Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code remains clamped within a one kilometer radius of the High Court and Parapanna Agrahara Prison to prevent any law and order situation.
Tight security was put in place around the Karnataka High Court complex with policemen deployed in good strength anticipating rush of AIADMK supporters and leaders.
Prohibitory orders are in force in the vicinity of the court and also Parappana Agrahara Jail, close to the entry point from Hosur on Karnataka-Tamil Nadu border where police kept a close vigil on entry of vehicles. Sasikala, Sudhakaran and Ilavarasi are also lodged in the same prison.
Meanwhile, security was today beefed up across Tamil Nadu, especially in the border areas, in the wake of sporadic violence following rejection of the bail plea of the AIADMK supremo. In Chennai, a hotel owned by a Kannadiga in K K Nagar locality came under stone pelting by some miscreants this evening, police said.
Reports of stoning of some vehicles bearing Karnataka registration numbers were received from Tiruchirappalli and Palani, they said. Security has been increased in areas where hotels owned by Kannadigas were located in the city, police said.
They added that security has been beefed up across the state, especially in border areas. Buses bound for Karnataka from Tamil Nadu and those coming from that state are being provided security, police informed.
With Agency inputs