SC reserves order on Jayalalithaa`s plea in DA case

Last Updated: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 - 19:12

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday reserved its verdict on the issue of appointment and sacking of Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) G Bhawani Singh in Karnataka in a disproportionate assets case against Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa.

The apex court will also decide the plea of the AIADMK Chief seeking extension of the tenure of the judge trying the case and is scheduled to retire on September 30.

A bench comprising justices B S Chauhan and S A Bobde concluded the hearing in which DMK General Secretary K Anbalagan opposed the plea of Jayalalithaa saying she and other accused were allegedly responsible for the protracted trial in the 17-year-old case.

Senior advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for DMK leader, submitted that those people who were responsible for delaying the proceedings in the case were now knocking the doors of the apex court for speedy completion of the trial.

He also backed the line of Karnataka Government and said Jayalalithaa`s plea for continuing with the trial judge after his retirement cannot be accepted as it would be contrary to the statute.

Vikas Singh said Bhawani Singh was appointed without consultation with the state government and the SPP can be removed at any time if he fails to meet the doctrine of pleasure theory.

"There is no fixed tenure for SPP and he can be withdrawn by the state government in terms of doctrine of pleasure theory," he submitted.

However, Jayalalithaa`s counsel Shekhar Naphade submitted that the opposite side has been attempting to create smokescreen of prejudice to delay the trial.

Attorney General G E Vahanvati, appearing for the Karnataka Government, had yesterday opposed the plea of Jayalalithaa on the SPP and for extension of the tenure of the trial court judge.

The bench had also deliberated on the political overtones on the issue of the appointment and sacking Bhawani Singh as the SPP.

"Was there (in Karnataka) the same government? When did the government change,?" the bench had yesterday asked.

The Attorney General had said the new government came on May 8 this year but the appointment of Bhawani Singh was done without any consultation between the state government and the chief justice of the Karnataka High Court.

The bench, which had perused the records, had noted Bhawani Singh, who has been sacked as SPP in the case, was appointed without any objection by Karnataka government to conduct the trial in the 17-year-old case.

The court had on September 20 called for the entire record relating to the controversy surrounding the appointment and sacking of Singh for its perusal to ascertain the reasons to drop him from conducting the proceedings.

Jayalalithaa`s counsel had alleged that removal of Singh came at a time when the criminal procedure in the case was at the final stage and was done with a political motive.

"It has been done to keep the pot boiling till the election for 2014," he had said.

"...The aim has been to delay the proceedings as the judge trying the case is going to retire on September 30," he had said.

Bhawani Singh was appointed as the SPP following the resignation of former Advocate General B V Acharya who was the prosecutor in the case from February 2005 to August 2012.

The bench was told that the state government decided to remove Singh as the SPP during the pendency of petition in the High Court questioning his appointment.

Karnataka government had on August 26 issued the notification withdrawing the appointment of Singh as SPP.

The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) chief is accused of amassing Rs 66.65 crore between 1991 and 1996 when she was the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.

The case was transferred by the apex court from Chennai to Bangalore in 2003 during her earlier tenure as the Chief Minister for a free and fair trial.

Jayalalithaa had alleged the case was slapped on her by the previous DMK government for political reasons.

During the earlier hearing also, Vahanvati had said the letter of the Chief Justice explained that since there was no consultative process in the appointment of Bhawani Singh, he was removed.

Jayalalithaa and three other accused Sasikala, Ilavarasi and V N Sudhakaran have also sought a direction to restrain Karnataka government from appointing a new judge for conducting the trial against them in a Bangalore court. The present judge is due to retire on September 30.

They have sought extension of the tenure of the present judge till the completion of the trial.
During the hearing on September 13, the apex court had objected to a Karnataka government notification "misrepresenting" an undertaking given by it as an order of the apex court on the appointment of SPP.
The bench had on August 30 restrained Karnataka government from appointing new SPP in the case. The order was passed on a plea by Jayalalithaa challenging the removal of Bhawani Singh as SPP.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 - 19:12

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