Jayalalitha Disproportionate Assets case: Supreme Court grants stay

Jayalalitha Disproportionate Assets case: Supreme Court grants stay

A Supreme Court Bench of Justice B.S. Chauhan and Justice A.K. Sikri yesterday stayed the criminal proceedings against All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) leader, J. Jayalalithaa, for 10 days in the disproportionate assets case against her, involving Rs. 66.65-crore with respect to the period of 1991-1996 during which she held office. The trial was in progress, in a Bangalore Court. However, the civil proceedings were permitted to continue and were not affected by the stay. The civil proceedings relate to claim Lex Property Developer P. Ltd. on the assets allegedly publicized to be 'benami (proxy)' possessions of Jayalalithaa. The Company had been allowed to cross-examine the witnesses.

Jayalalitha, through senior advocate Ranjit Kumar, had reportedly petitioned for a stay to avoid prejudice. An application was earlier filed in the trial court under Section 309 CrPC to postpone the arguments in the main case, considering the Madras High Court direction for disposal of the attachment applications before advancing to hear the arguments in the main case. It was submitted that if the arguments were allowed to proceed, they would have to account for certain properties which were wrongly included in the assets of the accused.

After this application was rejected, the accused approached the Karnataka High Court, seeking stay of the trial. After failure in this appeal as well, the present appeal was filed.

A Trial Court in Bangalore had earlier alleged that Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalitha and her Co-Accused were carrying out a “fraud on the court’’ through suppression of material facts and by misleading the court. Read the Live Law story here.

This case has been successfully delayed for 17 years now, filing several petitions making numerous demands.  A three week stay had earlier been granted because the Special Public Prosecutor, G Bhawani Singh had to undergo medical treatment, giving him time for recovery. Confirmation of such recovery by Senior Advocate L Nageshwar Rao, appearing for SPP enabled the Bench, comprising of Justices B S Chauhan and J Chalameswar, to order resumption of trial in April. Read the Live Law story here.

To realize the goal of a free and fair trial, the case was transferred from Chennai to Bangalore in 2003 during Jayalalithaa’s previous tenure as Chief Minister.

These corruption cases were filed against Jayalalitha by the former DMK government led by M. Karunanidhi. She was acquitted in all the other six corruption cases; however the Disproportionate assets case is hanging like a sword of Damocles over her head.

Three other accussed in the case are Sasikala, Ilavarasi and V N Sudhakaran. The case has been listed for June 6.

Read more news about the Disproportionate Assets case here.