Bengaluru: Former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa could not be made to explain the benami assets allegedly acquired by her aide Sasikala and her relatives Illavarasi and Sudhakaran in the disproportionate assets case, her counsel told the Karnataka High Court on Monday.
"In the charge sheet, Sasikala, Illavarasi and Sudhakaran have been mentioned as benamigars (benami holders) and hence, A-1 - Jayalalithaa - has no obligation to explain the acquirement of such properties. Those cannot be her properties," L Nageswara Rao said.
The submissions were made before Justice C R Kumaraswamy who is hearing appeals filed by Jayalalithaa and three others challenging their conviction in the case.
Jayalalithaa and three others were convicted under Section 13(1)(e) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 which defines the offence of criminal misconduct by a public servant.
The special bench, set up at the direction of the Supreme Court on December 18 to decide Jayalalithaa's plea in three months, is holding day-to-day hearing.
He also argued that the three others should not be tried under Prevention of Corruption Act as they were not public servants and hence they should be tried under Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 1988.
Rao argued that Jayalalithaa cannot be made to explain the benami assets acquired by Sasikala, Ilavarasi and Sudhakaran, also the estranged foster son of the AIADMK chief, as the law treats them as owners and hence their properties cannot be hers.
He contended that the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 1988 was enacted before Prevention of Coruption Act, 1988.
A Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu, had ordered that the hearing in the High Court on the appeal, filed by Jayalalithaa challenging her conviction and sentence in the case, be conducted on a day-to-day basis.
On October 17 last, 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 the High Court should be completed in three months from December 18.
The trial court had held Jayalalithaa and three others guilty of corruption and awarded four years jail term and also slapped a fine of Rs 100 crore on her and Rs 10 crore each on three others.