New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday refused to stay the hearing before the Karnataka High Court on the appeal of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa against her conviction in the disproportionate assets case, saying that it would decide the plea of DMK leader K Anbazhagan seeking removal of the public prosecutor.
A bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur issued notices to the AIADMK Chief and other convicts -- close aide Sasikala and two of her relatives, Karnataka government and special public prosecutor Bhawani Singh on the plea of the DMK leader and fixed it for disposal on March 18.
Anbazhagan, in his plea, has sought stay on the appeal proceedings before the Karnataka High Court on the ground that they are vitiated as the special public prosecutor is no more authorised to represent the state.
The petition has sought removal of the special public prosecutor, raising questions about his impartiality as prosecutor in the case.
At the outset, the bench said, "it seems that the hearing (before the HC) is almost over. Suppose, the conviction is upheld then you cannot complain and if it is not upheld then you can re-agitate it. Therefore, wait for the judgement."
"This appeal stands vitiated. Whether appeal succeeds or fails is not an issue. The issue is that the special prosecutor has no authority to appear before the High Court as prosecutor," senior advocate T R Andhyarujina, appearing for Anbazhagan, said.
He referred to the earlier apex court judgement in the case saying it was transferred to Karnataka from Tamil Nadu and it was made clear that the prosecutor would be appointed by Karnataka government in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court.
Karnataka has already said that Bhawani Singh is no more the prosecutor and therefore, he has no "authority to appear in the appeal proceedings", he said, adding that his subsequent appointment by Tamil Nadu government to appear as prosecutor in the case is against the Supreme Court judgement.
The bench then said it is a "legal" question which needs to be decided.
The Special court had held Jayalalithaa and three others guilty of corruption. The court had also slapped a fine of Rs 100 crore on the AIADMK chief and Rs 10 crore fine on each of the three other convicts.
During the hearing, the apex court also said the issue whether the DMK leader be allowed to file written submissions before the High Court in the case will be decided on March 18, the next date of hearing.
Andhyarujina also alleged that the special prosecutor has not been acting fairly.
The apex court had in December, 2014 extended by four months the bail of Jayalalithaa and asked the Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court to constitute a special bench to decide her plea expeditiously within three months.
On October 17, the apex court had granted conditional bail to Jayalalithaa, who was sent to jail by a trial court on September 27, saying that hearing on her appeal against conviction in High Court should be completed in five months from now.
The apex court had also granted bail to the AIADMK chief's close aide Sasikala and two of her relatives.
The 66-year-old politician, who had moved the Supreme Court for bail on October 9 after she was denied bail by the Karnataka High Court, had submitted that she had been sentenced to only four years jail in the case and she was also suffering from various ailments, as grounds for her immediate relief.