Asks special court to complete questioning in a day or two

The Supreme Court on Friday refused to grant personal exemption to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa from answering the remaining questions under Section 313 Cr.PC in the disproportionate assets case against her.

A Bench of Justices Dalveeer Bhandari and Dipak Misra, however, accepted the submission made on behalf of Ms. Jayalalithaa that it would not be suitable for her to appear on November 8 and asked the trial court to give her another date for recording the statement.

The Bench asked the Bangalore special court to complete the examination in one day, if not, on the next day. It directed both the Centre and the Karnataka government to provide Ms. Jayalalithaa adequate security considering her threat perception.

Earlier, senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi submitted that Ms. Jayalalithaa had completed answering 567 questions, out of 1,339 questions formulated by the special court. He said on the two days, October 20 and 21, when she appeared for questioning about 1,500 policemen were deployed for security and Section 144 Cr.PC (unlawful assembly) was also imposed. Considering all this the special court could be asked to allow her to answer the remaining questions in writing as contemplated under Section 313 (5) Cr.PC.

Justice Misra told Mr. Rohatgi “It [allowing Ms. Jayalalithaa to answer questions in writing] will tantamount to granting you privilege.” Justice Bhandari observed that if exemption from her appearance was granted it would set a wrong precedent.

She said after the amendment to Section 313 (5) Cr.PC in 2005, the examination of an accused under it could also be done by way of a written statement as the intention of the Legislature was to enable the accused to answer in writing the questions prepared by the Court with the help of the Prosecutor and defence counsel.

She said it was settled law that when the accused was not inclined to answer orally and was not claiming prejudice and wanted to submit herself to filing the written statement, there was nothing wrong in permitting her to file it. She sought stay of the special court's order dated October 21 asking her to appear on November 8 and to allow her to answer the remaining questions in writing.