Considering the fact that the evidence in the disproportionate assets cases against Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and three others runs into 34,000 pages, the Supreme Court on Monday asked the Karnataka High Court to extend the tenure of the special judge, who is retiring on September 30.
Disposing of petitions filed by Ms. Jayalalithaa and others, a Bench of Justice B.S. Chauhan and Justice S.A. Bobde said: “The Special Judge examined 99 defence witnesses and 384 defence exhibits were marked before him. The defence concluded its argument before the Special Judge and SPP commenced the final arguments on 23.8.2013. He was interrupted abruptly as on 26.8.2013, the SPP was asked not to continue with the work. The evidence led in the case is very bulky as it runs into 34000 pages. In case a new Judge starts hearing the matter, he is bound to take a long time to understand the factual and legal niceties involved in the case.”
The Bench, however, agreed with the submissions of the Attorney General G.E. Vahanvati appearing for Karnataka that this court generally should not pass any order (to direct extending the services of the special judge) in exercise of its extraordinary power under Article 142 of the Constitution to do complete justice if such order violates any statutory provisions. The judges said: “We do not intend to say that it would be illegal to extend the term of the special judge, but that it is a matter within the jurisdiction of the State in accordance with the relevant law. There is yet an uncontroverted legal principle that when the statute provides for a particular procedure, the authority has to follow the same and cannot be permitted to act in contravention of the same.”