Question of granting bail does not arise: Karnataka High Court to Jayalalithaa, Also dismisses plea for suspension of sentence [Read the Order]

Question of granting bail does not arise: Karnataka High Court to Jayalalithaa, Also dismisses plea for suspension of sentence [Read the Order]

Dismissing the appeals filed under S. 389 (1) of CrPC by Jayalalithaa before the Karnataka High Court, Justice A.V.Chandrashekara today ordered that the question of granting bail to the accused doesn’t arise.

Jayalalithaa had approached the High Court after being convicted by a Special Court in a DA case. Along with the former Chief Minister, the bail pleas of her aides Sasikala, V. Sudhakaran and J. Elavarasi were also dismissed. The High Court also dismissed their plea for suspending the sentence imposed on them until their appeal against conviction is decided by the High Court.

The Special Public Prosecutor had filed detailed objections to the applications seeking suspension of sentence on October 1st. The Prosecution had then stated, “The unimpeachable evidence of prosecution witnesses amply establishes the case of prosecution.   The  charges  of accusation  being  proved  and  conviction being  upheld  is  bright  as  the  state  has  got very  good  case  on  merits  and  therefore,  the above  application  does  not  merit  any consideration.” It had also submitted “In  view  of  the  seriousness  of  the offences  and  keeping  in  view  the  status  of the  accused  the  prosecution  reasonably apprehends  that  if  the  conviction  and sentence  is  stayed,  she  may  misuse  the liberty  and  in  such  event,  it  will  be  difficult for  prosecution  to  secure  the  presence  of  the accused  for  receiving  the  sentence,  if  the appeal  is  dismissed  by  this  Hon’ble  court  in the latter stage.”

Moreover, the Prosecution had also said, “It is most respectfully submitted that Section 389(1) of Cr.P.C.  provides only suspension of sentence  and  not  the conviction as prayed for.” It had accordingly prayed for dismissal of application for bail and suspension of sentence.

However, the in the Court today, when asked to submit his arguments, the Special Public Prosecutor submitted  that  he has  no  arguments  to  make  and  that  the  sentence may be suspended and the accused may be released on  imposing  conditions  deemed  fit  under  the circumstances  of  the  case.

Appearing for Jayalalithaa, Senior Advocate Ram Jethmalani submitted that “judgment  of  the  Trial  Court  is  neither sustainable  in  law  nor  on  facts”. He also asked for a “lenient  view  insofar  as suspending  the  sentence  is  concerned,  since  there is  no  possibility  of  an  early  hearing  in  a  case  like this with voluminous evidence.” He also submitted, “appeal should not be rendered infructuous because of  the  delay  that  would  be  caused  in  hearing  the appeal.”

However, the Court looking into the words of the provisions very carefully, observed, “It is true that in all the appeals filed under Section 374(2) of Cr.P.C.  good  number  of  grounds have  been  taken  up  to  be  urged  at  the  time  of submitting  final  arguments.   It  is  true  that  the sentence  of  imprisonment  imposed  on  these accused is below seven years and that normally the Courts  are  expected  to  suspend  the  sentence.   But the word “may” used in Section 389 Cr.P.C.  does not say that it is an absolute right of the accused to seek  suspension  of  sentence.   Anyhow  the  Court  is expected to apply its mind and consider all relevant factors without going to the merits of the case in  an application filed under Section 389 (1) of Cr.P.C.”

The High Court also highlighted the approach regarding corruption cases, and the order states, “Hon’ble  Supreme  Court  has  added  new dimension to the cases arising out of Corruption Act cases.   Looking  to  the  whole  gamut  of  cases  relied upon  by  the  Hon’ble  Apex  Court  in  Balakrishna Dattatrya’s  case,  this  Court  is  of  the  opinion  that corruption  is  a  serious  melody  undermining  the very health of polity.”

The order also states, “Hon’ble  Supreme  Court  has  given directions  to  all  the  Special  Courts  dealing  with offences  under  Prevention  of  Corruption  Act  as specified  under  Section  8(1)  to  (3)  of  theRepresentation of the People Act, 1951 that trial will have  to  be  conducted  speedily  within  a  year  from the  date  of  framing  charges.  This  order  has  been passed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court on 10.3.2014 in  W.P  (Civil)  No.536/2011  Public  Interest Foundation & Ors. vs. Union of India & Anr.The decision of the Hon’ble Supreme Court is in the light of the decision in the case of Lily Thomas v. Union of  India reported  in  2013  (7)  SCC  653.”

Highlighting the approach of the Supreme Court regarding corruption cases, the High Court said, “The  whole  emphasis  of  the  Hon’ble  Apex Court  towards  the  prosecution  case  is  very  clear “Put the cases of corruption on Fast Track.”

The order also made observations about the position of Jayalalithaa, it states, “accused No.1  was a  high constitutional  functionary  in  the  State  of  Tamil Nadu  being  the  Chief  Minister.   The  allegation  is that  during  the  check  period  she  had  amassed wealth  and  accused  Nos.2  to  4  were  hand  in  glove with her having resided with her during the relevant period and afterwards also.”

Following the precedents regarding the point of law, the Court noted, “In  view  of  the  clear  observation  made  by the  Hon’ble  Supreme  Court  in  Balakrishna Dattatrya’s case  that  corruption  violates  human rights  and  leads  to  systematic economic  crisis,  that this is not a fit case in which the sentence could  be suspended.   Apart  from  this,  relying  upon K.C.Sareen Vs. C.B.I. Chandigarh reported in  AIR 2001  SC  3320,  the  Hon’ble  Apex  Court  in Balakrishna  Dattatrya’s case  has  held  that  a person  convicted  of  an  offence  punishable  under Section  389(1)  of  Cr.P.C,  the  Corruption  Act  isdeemed to be corrupt, till he or she is exonerated by the Appellate Court or the Revisional Court.”

Refusing to suspend the sentence, the Court said, “Taking  all  this  into  consideration  this Court  is  of  the  opinion  that  no  grounds  exists  to suspend the sentence.”

Addressing the Bail application, the Court observed, “Viewed  from  any  angle,  this  is  not  a  fit case in which sentence could be suspended and bail could  be  consequentially  granted.   Hence applications filed  under  Section  389(1)  of  Cr.P.C. are liable to be dismissed.”

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