Seeks exemption from personal appearance on November 8

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa has moved the Supreme Court against a Bangalore special court's October 21 order that directed her to appear before it on November 8 to answer the remaining questions under Section 313 of the Cr. PC in the disproportionate assets case.

In a special leave petition, she said the Supreme Court, in its order, had stated: “We request the presiding officer of the special court to take up this matter on October 20 and conclude the statement of the petitioner preferably the same day. In case, for any reason, the statement is not concluded the same day, it may be taken up the next day.”

Ms. Jayalalithaa said the special court had formulated 1,339 questions in all, and she had answered 567. Because of the large number of questions, it was not possible for the court to conclude the examination in two days. “The court proposes to continue the examination for many more days. It has now postponed further examination to November 8.”

She said: “The two days of appearance of the petitioner, on October 20 and 21, led to massive traffic disruptions in Bangalore and largely inconvenienced the inhabitants because … over 1,500 policemen were deployed for security, and where [an order under] Section 144 of the Cr. PC [unlawful assembly] was imposed. It has also been at the cost of some re-arrangement of the necessary administrative and constitutional duties required from the petitioner.

“She is occupying a constitutional office, which requires her to be on duty at short notice at all conceivable times. Keeping all these factors in mind, this court ordered [that] her examination may be concluded preferably in one day. However, the special court seeks to indefinitely continue the process till all its … questions are exhausted. The special court does not seek to adhere to the orders of this court by either restricting its questions or, in the alternative, by resorting to the provisions of Section 313(5) of the Cr. PC by allowing a written statement to the questions.”

After the amendment to Section 313(5) of the Cr.PC in 2005, Ms. Jayalalithaa said, the examination of an accused could also be done by way of a written statement, as the aim of the amendment was to enable the accused to file a written statement on the basis of the questions prepared by the court with the help of the prosecutor and defence counsel.

She said it was a settled law that when the accused was not inclined to answer orally and was not claiming prejudice and wanted to submit herself to filing of the written statement, there was nothing wrong in permitting her to file the written statement. She sought an interim stay on the operation of the two orders, dated October 20 and 21, since the special court erred in not considering the avoidable costs in terms of time, money and aggravation suffered by the inhabitants of Bangalore.