The disproportionate assets case against former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Thursday took a new turn when a Special Court here dismissed an application by the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC), Chennai, seeking permission to withdraw prosecution against her in the London Hotels case.
The London Hotels case relates to acquisition of assets (two hotels) in London, United Kingdom, by Ms. Jayalalithaa and T.T.V. Dinakaran.
In its application, the DVAC said during the pendency of the disproportionate assets case against Ms. Jayalalithaa and others before the 11th Additional Special Judge, Chennai, another charge sheet came to be filed against her and Mr. Dinakaran. Both the cases were subsequently transferred by the Supreme Court to the 34th Additional Sessions Court (Special Court) Bangalore.
The DVAC said the present application was filed only in respect of the second charge sheet and does not pertain to the first charge sheet. While the first case pertains to acquisition of assets in India, the second relates to acquisition of property abroad.
B.V. Acharya, Special Public Prosecutor, said he had gone through the original records, case diary and other relevant material of the second case which is still in the custody of DVAC. A final report on further investigation of this case is yet to be filed.
He said on July 22, 2001, a new Investigating Officer, Subburam (Additional Superintendent of Police), obtained permission under Section 173 (8) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) from the Special Judge, Chennai, for further investigation into the second case. After further investigation was conducted, S. Subramaniam, IRS, was examined as a witness and his statement was recorded. The statement ruled out the involvement of Ms. Jayalalithaa in the second case. The statement of some other witnesses recorded during further investigation weakened the case of the prosecution.
The application says there are nine witnesses residing abroad and that it may not be possible to secure their presence for examination. It says though there is evidence regarding acquisition of property in London and its subsequent disposal, it will be difficult to prove the connection between the sources illegally acquired in India by a public servant and payment for the sale abroad.
The charges in the second case are likely to fail for paucity of evidence and prospect of successful prosecution is remote. Therefore, Mr. Acharya said, he had formed an opinion that it would be just and proper to withdraw from prosecution in the second case and peruse the first case in which the trial is nearing completion.
Dismissing the application, the Special Judge, B.V. Mallikarjunaiah, said the prosecution could not take the stand that it could not examine the witnesses. He said in his 40-page judgment that the statement of witnesses, even if they are abroad, can be taken.