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Updated: September 30, 2013 23:00 IST

Supreme Court quashes order removing Bhavani Singh

J. Venkatesan
Comment (21)   ·   print   ·   T  T  
A file photo of Bhavani Singh.
The Hindu A file photo of Bhavani Singh.

Order removing SPP quashed on her appeal in assets cases

Holding that it was a mala fide exercise of power, the Supreme Court on Monday quashed the Karnataka government order removing G. Bhavani Singh as Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) for conducting trial in disproportionate assets cases against Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and three other accused.

A Bench of Justices B.S. Chauhan and S.A. Bobde, while disposing of petitions filed by Ms. Jayalalithaa and three others, asked the Karnataka High Court to consider extending the services of the present special judge (who was to retire on Monday) for continuing the trial.

(Ms. Jayalalithaa, Sasikala, Ilavarasi and V.N. Sudhakaran had challenged the removal of the SPP and sought a direction to extend the services of the present judge.)

Writing the judgment, Justice Chauhan said: “In the instant case, there has been a change of political party in power in May 2013 and thus, the order of the State government is alleged to be politically motivated. In our opinion, though there is an undoubted power with the government to withdraw or revoke the appointment within Section 21 of the General Clauses Act but that exercise of power appears to be vitiated in the present case by mala fides in law inasmuch as it is apparent on record that the switchover of the government in between has resulted in a sudden change of opinion that is abrupt for no discernible legally sustainable reason.

“The sharp transitional decision was an act of clear unwarranted indiscretion actuated by an intention that does not appear to be founded in good faith. Fair trial is the main object of criminal procedure and such fairness should not be hampered or threatened in any manner.”

The Bench said the reason put forth by the Government of Karnataka for removing Mr. Singh as SPP appeared to be rather unusual. It might be true that his name was not in the list of four names submitted by the government to the then Acting Chief Justice of the High Court and the name originated from the Acting Chief Justice, prior to making of appointment of SPP by the Government of Karnataka; But it was equally true that the appointment was made by the government without questioning the ability or suitability of the incumbent, nor the government raised any issue in respect of the manner/issue of consultation. Apart from this, the appointment continued un-objected for almost seven months.

The Bench said, “The grievance [of the Karnataka government] that there has been no consultation or insufficient consultation is normally raised by the authority who has a right to be consulted, in this case the Chief Justice. It is not legitimate for the party who has a duty to consult and who has failed in that duty, to make a grievance that there has been no consultation. This is exactly what has happened in the present case. If the government found the name of Mr. Bhavani Singh, which was sent by the Acting Chief Justice, not acceptable on any ground, it was duty-bound to refer the name back to the Acting Chief Justice along their its views and suggestions, which was not done by them. There is nothing on record to indicate that the Government of Karnataka had been forced by anyone to make the said appointment. The government thus voluntarily acquiesced in the process and is now not entitled to raise this grievance. The grievance is thus baseless and does not carry any conviction.”

"But it was equally true that the appointment was made by the government without questioning the ability or suitability of the incumbent,..." I wish the court had ordered the high court to conduct an enquiry on the ability and suitability of Mr. Singh within a certain duration. This would have sealed the matter.

from:  Sudhakaran
Posted on: Oct 1, 2013 at 11:53 IST

It is the DMK and its patriach's vested interest in the case that prompted them to influence upon the new cong govt in karnataka to change the Judge and the Spl PP suddenly, without any rhyme or reason. The Hon'ble Supreme Court has given a categorical finding that the changes were motivated by malafides. It is the same DMK which wanted the case to be moved from out of Tamilnadu citing reasons of trial being intimidated by the ruling party. Now unable to face the AIADMK surge publicaly and politically, the same DMK wants to scuttle the fair trial through its partner in corruption, the Congress Govt in Karnataka, sensing that the trial is nearing completion and that the judgement might go in favour of Ms.Jayalalitha. In fact the Govt of karnataka and the coplainant Mr.Anbalagan should be censured by the Supreme Court for medling with the judicial process and casting aspersions on the Judge and the PP.

from:  Kataka
Posted on: Oct 1, 2013 at 11:49 IST

If one looks at the background of those who wanted the "fair" trial in this case (only), it will be very clear as to what are their motives. TN has at last got out of the clutches of bad elements and it will be the duty of every citizen to ensure such anti social evil forces do not rear their head again in the political arena. All educated persons should endeavor in that direction rather than taking a frivolous view on trivial issues.

from:  K. Sridhar
Posted on: Oct 1, 2013 at 07:40 IST

Besides, there are vested interests bent on getting a desired judgement. Looking at the alacrity with which removal of the prosecutor was done, no one can deny play of power groups to stifle the normal process of law. The enemies of the accused will think one day that the proceedings are not happening as desired, will show active interest in meddling with the case proceedings and the Govt will oblige them immediately by fulfilling their aspirations! They have made a mockery of themselves now!

from:  K. Sridhar
Posted on: Oct 1, 2013 at 07:40 IST

Dumb comments from a few readers here & its surprising or it isn't? In this case, the accused wasn't given the option to choose their judge. They simply requested for retention of the judge & prosecutor who spent a long time working in this case. If a new set of people come in, the case will go on for another year or so! There is absolutely nothing wrong in the accused wanting a speedy completion of the process!

from:  K. Sridhar
Posted on: Oct 1, 2013 at 07:39 IST

What ever it is, the Supreme Court has delivered a land mark judgment in this case. It is a glaring fact that those who are opposing Ms. Jayalalitha have chosen the Congress route in Delhi and must have pressurized the Karnataka Government to change the SPP. Faith in the judiciary has not gone in vain. K.R. Arunachalam from San Jose, USA.

from:  K.R. Arunachalam
Posted on: Oct 1, 2013 at 04:31 IST

It;s high time that judicial reforms are needed in our country & make the court to give verdict atleast within six months from the date of trial. Justice delayed is denied & at the same time justice hurried is justice buried. Law makers have to decide

from:  Venkat Loganathan
Posted on: Oct 1, 2013 at 02:37 IST

this is another example the congress govt is playing with Institutions. the judgement given by supreme court is one more slap on the face of ruling congress and also their ex ally DMK. AG had failed in upteen number of cases due to his wrong duty bound protection of his masters govt run by congress his reputation is supreme court is awful day in day out he is in the court for correction of his own misleading lies to save his protectors. this is right time that he should step down from his position

from:  s.l.sarvothaman
Posted on: Oct 1, 2013 at 02:30 IST

The question that needs to be asked is why should Karnataka Government oblige Anbhazagan's request ?The Case was moved from Tamilnadu to Karnataka to prevent undue political interference, but the opposite seems to be happening. The Government's (Govt of Karnataka) job is to appoint judge and SPP .If the Karnataka Govt tries to do anything more than that then the case should be moved back to Tamilnadu.

from:  Ganapathi Iyer
Posted on: Sep 30, 2013 at 21:55 IST

The entire episode has more of questions than answers. Some are What if the SPP acquiesced with the accused by remaining silent as if there was no job of prosecution for him and thus facilitating the accused further its case? Did the Spl Judge also not have any case of prosecution before him to consider? Prof.K. Anbazhagan's petition before Karnataka HC raises fundamental questions on the credibility of both the Special PP and judge. What will be the fate of the petition?

from:  GEORGE AUGUSTIN T
Posted on: Sep 30, 2013 at 20:23 IST

It is very unfortunate and black day to indian judiciary. When there are so many people languishing in jail for years together and even the date fixed cases are not listed for final hearing, Supreme Court suddenly breaking the constitution bench hearing the petition filed by the accused on day today basis and giving direction to the High Court which is contrary to law. This kind of orders can be passed only to the politicians. The petition filed by Thiru. K. Anbalagan is pending before Karnataka High Court. Is it not the duty of the supreme court to hear the same along with the present petition or the Supreme Court ought to have transferred it to High Court and by this order they tied the hands of Karnataka High Court. It is a gang rape on law by the Supreme Court.

from:  Ravi
Posted on: Sep 30, 2013 at 17:58 IST

it is a rare case that Judge can not retained to complete the case taken on hand,since he islikely to retire shortly.Giovt must ensure that cases once taken has to completed within the tenure of the same before his retirement or he ensure completing the case and thenchoose a date for retirnment onl.Govt cfan not changingon judges to prolong the issue.,why not seirously sit and award a judgmenet and if is for the defence to accept or go to hitgher court.

from:  Vaidya Raman
Posted on: Sep 30, 2013 at 14:05 IST

How many cases an individual can face foisted by her political opponents? If you go through the records you will understand how people in politics have manipulated the judicial system

from:  krishnakumar
Posted on: Sep 30, 2013 at 13:22 IST

I would like to comment on the critics of this judgement. How can they say this verdict thrown open a chance to criminals on the choice of SPP and the judge? Did Ms. Jayalalitha select the judge and SPP at the time of commencement of trial. It is purely a political game played by the corrupt DMK to prolong the issue and deprive some good governance in TN. After a gap of 17 years when the final stage has been set for delivery of justice system what is wrong in the accused requesting the courts to see an end to the trial which would be bring their agony to ane end one way or other. Every one in TN knows that this is one of the politically motivated case foisted against Ms. Jayalalitha and the opposition in the state doesnot want her to carry out people's mandate given to her lest they will never come to power once again.

from:  kasthuri rangan
Posted on: Sep 30, 2013 at 12:37 IST

Apex court pronounced correctly by quashing Bhavani Singh's removal by (DMK through) Karnataka Govt. Thus it stopped the politics behind the removal of SPP in the hands of Karnataka Congress Govt on the behest of Karunanidhi & team. Nobody had opposed their appointment even after Congress Govt took charge at Karnataka recently. They need to score credit by maligning Jayalalitha politically.,

from:  S Venkatesh
Posted on: Sep 30, 2013 at 12:10 IST

he..! he..! he...!!! Now the criminals are open to select their judges This is Indian Judiciary.

from:  Ravi
Posted on: Sep 30, 2013 at 10:37 IST

Can any accused ask for the SPP & Judge of he/her option ?...but the court has given a chance for every accused to approach the courts of their own choice in the appointment of SPP & judge. The court should look into the defective way of the SPP to enquire the witnesses.

from:  E.Raamasubramaniyan
Posted on: Sep 30, 2013 at 09:28 IST

Only in India, an accused can decide the judge and prosecutor, to make matters worse the supreme court endorses it. When the accused deliberately delayed the case by requesting the complete case sheet and so on. The question is whether the supreme court will use the same yardstick for an average Indian citizen.

from:  Senthilkumar K B
Posted on: Sep 30, 2013 at 09:03 IST

Is it not high time that the Supreme Court puts in measures to expedite cases against politicians so that justice can be dispensed on time? Prolonging cases for 17 years as in this case is not justice for anyone, is it?

from:  Ramachandran
Posted on: Sep 30, 2013 at 08:36 IST

This is slap on the face of Congress & DMK. It is evident that every time congress is trying to use the constitutional functionaries for political purpose. We have only one saviour in the form of Supreme court. Even High court is also under the control of Congress. These generation politicians of ruling party must be thrown out in deep sea, no no it will also get contaminated

from:  sri
Posted on: Sep 30, 2013 at 08:15 IST

I am sure, had this matter was argued by other than Attorney General Mr. Vahanvati, the Karnataka Government would have got relief as AG has lost his credentials in the corridors of the Hon'ble Supreme Court for his continous wrong and misleading pleadings. Thank God. The country is going to get ridoff from this corrupt Congress Government very shortly.

from:  Mallikarjuna Rao T.V.L.N
Posted on: Sep 30, 2013 at 07:28 IST
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