Contending that if trial in the disproportionate assets case pending against her and others in a Bangalore special court was allowed to proceed without rectifying errors in the translation of documents, it would result in miscarriage of justice, former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Friday moved the Supreme Court seeking stay of the trial.
Besides Ms. Jayalalithaa, the other accused in the case are: Sasikala; V.N. Sudhagaran; Ialavarasi and T.T. V. Dinakaran.
In her special leave petition, challenging the Karnataka High Court order dated November 24 allowing the trial to proceed, Ms. Jayalalithaa said, “She and others are now being prosecuted on the basis of translations of depositions of witnesses which were originally recorded in Tamil when the case was pending in Chennai, Tamil Nadu.
The depositions recorded in Tamil were translated into English since the language of the courts in Karnataka is not Tamil. The quality of translation was very poor and the translation of evidence from Tamil to English was done very carelessly. The translation was distorted and did not reflect the true evidence recorded in Tamil. Not only that, in many places, the evidence which was not available in Tamil was introduced in the garb of translation clearly to implicate her, in that there was no incriminating evidence against her in the Tamil deposition, but in the English translation of the evidence, incriminating evidence had been maliciously inserted.”
She said she was filing the SLP for the reason of flagrant violation of the fundamental right to a free and fair trial. The grave travesty of justice and prejudice that would be caused by adjudicating the matter, that too a criminal proceeding with stringent penal consequences, and the resultant transgression of sacrosanct fundamental rights under Art. 21 of the Constitution of India of India are not far to seek, she said.
She said, “The High Court did not appreciate that any such translation done contrary to the Code of Criminal Procedure is clearly violative of Article 21 of the Constitution. Needless to highlight, when the law mandates a procedure to be followed then it is the duty of the court to strictly follow the procedure prescribed under law.”
The High Court erred in holding vaguely that correction to the translation could be done ‘at appropriate stage' after noting that free and fair trial was the sine qua non of Article 21 and that there was no doubt that the accused should get fair and proper opportunity and that if any translation should come in the way of proceeding with the trial, correction could be done at an appropriate stage. Grave and irreparable prejudice would be caused to her by such a direction wherein she would be forced to face trial on the basis of such wrong/distorted evidence by reason of incorrect translations hardly needs emphasis, the SLP said and sought an interim stay of all further proceedings pending disposal of the SLP.