SLP only a device to postpone trial: DVAC

In a surprise move, the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC), Tamil Nadu, opposed Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s plea in the Supreme Court seeking to extend the stay on criminal trial in the disproportionate assets case against her and three others pending in a special court in Bangalore.

A vacation Bench of Justices B.S. Chauhan and A.K. Sikri on May 26 stayed the trial till June 6, acting on a special leave petition filed by Ms. Jayalalithaa and V.N. Sasikala, a co-accused in the disproportionate assets case, against a Karnataka High Court order refusing to stay the trial. This stay was extended till June 16 and on Monday the matter came up for further hearing before a vacation Bench of Justices Vikramajit Sen and Shiva Kirti Singh.

Justice Sen told senior counsel Shekar Naphade: “During the relevant time [as the then Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court] I was concerned with appointments [of special judge in Bangalore and special public prosecutor] and do you have any objection in me hearing the case?” The counsel said he had no objection.

Senior counsel Amarendra Saran, appearing for the DVAC, which is the prosecuting agency, said the appeal by Ms. Jayalalithaa and others had become infructuous as the attachment application had been withdrawn on May 26. Senior counsel R. Shanmugasundaram, appearing for DMK general secretary K. Anbazhagan, who had impleaded in the case, endorsed the submissions of Mr. Saran. But Mr. Naphade said he was opposing the DVAC plea to withdraw the application as the prosecuting agency could not do that. The Bench said it needed time to go through the petitions and posted the matter for further hearing on Tuesday.

In its reply, the DVAC said, “Ms. Jayalalithaa’s special leave petition against the Karnataka High Court’s order is only a device to postpone the hearing in the trial court. The trial has been going on from 2010 and has reached the fag end. No question of law arises for consideration in this case.” It said the reason for withdrawing the application for attachment of the properties was that all the properties had already been seized by the DVAC and were in the custody of the special court, Bangalore. Since the application had been withdrawn, the SLP had become infructuous, it said.

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