Hyderabad: Former Supreme Court Judge N Santosh Hegde has said instances involving Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa and Bollywood superstar Salman Khan where the courts granted them bail and heard their cases "out of turn" have brought a "bad name" to the judiciary.
The two judicial decisions have sent a wrong message that the "rich and powerful" can get bail quickly, Hegde, also a former Solicitor General of India, said here.
The former Karnataka Lokayukta said he fully agreed with public perception that rich and powerful escape the clutches of law.
"I have been stating from various forums the two instances which have given a bad name to the judiciary -- one is Jayalalithaa's (disproportionate assets) case where after 14 years she got conviction and High Court of Karnataka admitted the appeal but did not give the bail, they go to Supreme Court. Not only bail is granted (within days) -- I am not opposing the grant of bail -- but there was a direction to the High Court to dispose off the case in three months", Hegde said.
In contrast, he noted that there are hundreds of people, lingering in jail who have not got bail and their bail application is taken up 4-5 years later.
"Similarly is the case of Salman Khan who also got conviction after 14 years in the first Court and High Court granted bail within one hour. Okay. Nothing wrong in granting bail and (the judge) heard cases in two months. Both (in Jayalalithaa's and Salman Khan's cases) are retiring judges", he said.
Hegde said the court needed to dispose off urgently matters such as if a man is going to be executed tomorrow or where there is examination the next day and the student is not given hall-ticket.
"But where is the urgency (in Jayalalithaa's and Salman Khan cases)...Merely because the rich and powerful, they get the bail and they want their matter to be heard out of turn. I totally oppose this and condemn the two instances", he said.
"People have started asking questions...Tell us what was so important about those (two) cases that you heard it out of turn. Certainly it will send wrong signals that rich and the powerful have separate track", Hegde added.