With Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa expressing concern over her safety, the Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Karnataka government to explain the steps taken to protect her when she appears in a trial court in Bangalore on October 20 in a disproportionate assets case.
A Bench of Justices Dalveer Bhandari and Dipak Mishra asked standing counsel for Karnataka Anita Shenoy to file an affidavit personally, through the Chief Secretary or the Director-General of Police, by 10.30 a.m. on Wednesday, when the matter would be taken up for further hearing.
The court passed the directive after senior counsel Mukul Rohtagi, appearing for Ms. Jayalalithaa, wanted the trial deferred to November last week on the ground that no intimation about either the security or the venue of the hearing was given to Ms. Jayalalithaa, who is under the Z plus category security and National Security Guard (NSG) cover.
“What is the State government doing? Speedy trial is very much needed. But the security of the person is also equally important. She enjoys the Z plus category security and NSG cover. We don't want anything to happen. Security is even more important. We may ask the trial judge to review and then take a decision,” the Bench told Ms. Shenoy.
Counsel sought time for seeking necessary information and instructions from the State.
“You cannot have any laxity. The order was passed long back. Why were no adequate security arrangements made? Please take instructions from the Chief Minster or the Director-General of Police. You file an affidavit. It should be filed personally either by the Chief Secretary or the Director-General of Police. We will hear the matter tomorrow at 10.30 a.m.,” the Bench said.
On September 12, the Supreme Court dismissed Ms. Jayalalithaa's plea for exemption from personal appearance owing to the perceived threat perception.
In her fresh application, Ms. Jayalalithaa submitted that even the NSG, which was normally given advance notice of the security arrangements for those under its cover, had not been given any intimation about either the venue or the measures taken to protect her by the local police.
The Chief Minister submitted that she was apprehensive that a hostile atmosphere could be created in Bangalore by organisations like the ‘Al Mun Thameen Force,' which had vowed to avenge the killing of its cadre Imam Ali and others in an encounter with the Tamil Nadu police in Bangalore in 2002.
Furthermore, there were a number of other perceived threats to her. “Grave prejudice and irreparable loss and hardship would be caused to the applicant if this application is not allowed,” the application said.
The case relates to alleged accumulation of assets worth more than Rs. 66 crore by her from 1991 to 1996. She has alleged that the cases were foisted on her by the DMK government for political reasons.
In pursuant to the earlier directions of the Supreme Court, the case was transferred to Karnataka to ensure a fair and free trial.