Seeks direction to restrain Karnataka from appointing new judge

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and three other accused persons in the disproportionate assets case moved the Supreme Court on Wednesday for a direction to restrain Karnataka government from appointing a new judge for conducting the trial against them in a Bangalore court. The present judge is due to retire on September 30.

On a writ petition filed by Ms. Jayalalithaa, Ms. Sasikala, Ilavarasi and V.N. Sudhakaran, the Supreme Court on September 13 stayed an order passed by the Karnataka government removing Bhavani Singh as the special public prosecutor. The present application filed in the same writ petition also seeks a direction to the State government to extend the tenure of the present judge till the completion of the trial.

They also filed another writ petition challenging the sacking of Mr. Bhavani Singh by an order dated September 16. Both the application and the fresh writ petition are likely to come up for ‘mentioning’ on September 20.

Ms. Jayalalithaa and others said the trial was proceeding almost on a day-to-day basis as the present judge was due to retire on September 30. In order to keep the sword hanging, the rival political party [DMK] started interfering with the case from August 13 when it was coming to a conclusion. This was done to ensure that the case never attained finality and also by this process the judge would retire. The cardinal principle in criminal case was that the judge “who hears the whole case shall deliver the judgment. The entire trial viz recording of statements under Section 313 Cr.P.C. of three of the four accused [except Ms. Jayalalithaa] was conducted before the present judge.

The applicants said the new judge would not be in a position to appreciate the questions put to the accused under Section 313 Cr.P.C. which were extremely essential for conducting a fair trial. The entire exercise would have to be repeated before the new judge and this would cause great prejudice to the accused, they said and sought a direction to restrain the State government from appointing a new judge and a direction to grant him extension till the completion of the trial.

In the writ petition, Ms. Jayalalithaa and others said “the present notification dated September 16 which has been supposedly issued with the concurrence of the Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court cannot be sustained on the touchstone of Article 14 of the Constitution because there is no reason as to why the Special Public Prosecutor is being removed. By such action on the part of the State government, the Petitioners’ fundamental Right to a fair trial has been seriously prejudiced and has resulted in grave miscarriage of justice.”

They sought quashing of the notification removing Mr. Bhavani Singh as the SPP.

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