The Supreme Court on Monday stayed proceedings till June 6 in the criminal trial in the disproportionate assets case against Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and three others pending in a special court in Bangalore.
A vacation Bench of Justices B.S. Chauhan and A.K. Sikri stayed the trial on a special leave petition filed by Ms. Jayalalithaa and V.N. Sasikala against a Karnataka High Court order refusing to stay the trial.
The Bench made it clear that proceedings in respect of the claim petitions would continue before the trial court.
The Bench after hearing senior counsel Ranjit Kumar, appearing for the petitioners, issued notice to the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption of the Tamil nadu government returnable in 10 days and stayed the trial till June 6, the next date of hearing.
When Justice Chauhan wanted to know as to why the T.N. government and not Karnataka government had been made as the respondent, Mr. Ranjit Kumar said that the T.N government was the prosecuting agency and only the special public prosecutor was appointed by Karnataka pursuant to an order of the apex court. Then Justice Chauhan quipped “if that is the case, Tamil Nadu government should be supporting you [Ms. Jayalalithaa].” However, counsel replied, “The State is not supporting our case.”
Counsel said an application was filed in the trial court under Section 309 CrPC to postpone the arguments in the main case contending that the Madras High Court had directed disposal of the attachment applications before proceeding to hear the arguments in the main case.
It was contended that if the main case was taken up for final arguments then the accused would not have an opportunity to put forward their contentions that the ownership of certain properties had been wrongly included as the assets of the accused.
The counsel argued that the trial court had failed to implement the directions of the Madras High Court to dispose of the attachment application before proceeding to hear final arguments in the main case in order to give a fair trial to the accused. He said the Special Judge was not proceeding in accordance with the procedure laid down in the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 1944, under which the claim petitions were filed.
The petitioners said the course of action adopted by the Special Judge would take away their valuable rights and they would have to account for the properties, which did not belong to them.
After the application was rejected, they approached the Karnataka High Court seeking stay of trial pending disposal of the claim petitions that certain properties which belonged to them had been wrongly included as disproportionate assets and hence attachment should be lifted. Since no relief was granted, they filed the present appeal seeking stay of trial.