The Special Court on Friday refused to believe the claim of Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) G. Bhavani Singh that it was only when he was preparing for the final arguments about a month ago that he came to know that certain silver articles, said to have been seized from the house of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa in 1996, were not produced before the court as part of evidence.
On the face of it, the claim of the SPP “appears to be far from truth and unbelievable,” said John Michael Cunha, judge of the Special Court trying the disproportionate assets case against Ms. Jayalalithaa and others, in his order on the SPP’s application.
1,116 kg silver articles
The SPP filed an application on February 3, 2014 informing that 1,116 kg of seized silver articles were not with the court as they were left in the custody of V. Baskaran, the then secretary and consultant to Ms. Jayalalithaa. The SPP had said that production of the silver articles was essential before commencing the final arguments.
While dismissing his plea, the court said that Mr. Singh, who had assumed the post of the SPP in February 2013, had allowed defence counsel to commence the final arguments and thereafter he too argued the case for three days before the earlier judge, and now he could not say that without going through records of the case he proceeded with the arguments then.
As the SPP and the accused did not dispute the fact that Baskaran died in December 2013, the court also said that the SPP did not modify his plea but he “pursued it against a dead person and it is not permissible in law.” DMK leader K. Anbazhagan, who is an intervener in the case, had produced Baskaran’s death certificate while complaining that the SPP had filed the application to protract the case even though the prosecution was aware of the death.
“It is not known why the SPP has selectively sought to summon only silver articles from a person who is dead,” the court said, and sought to know why the prosecution did not wish to summon other materials such as 749 silk saris, 10,595 saris and 750 pairs of footwear which were also said to be handed over to the custody of Baskaran along with the 1,116 kg of silver seized from Ms. Jayalalithaa’s Poes Garden residence in 1996.
Noticing that Ms. Jayalalithaa had given an undertaking in 1998 before a Chennai court not to alienate or transfer the silver articles, which were valued, until the conclusion of the trial, the court said that these silver articles were not required to be summoned only for the sake of marking them.