The services of special judge M.S. Balakrishna could not be extended beyond September 30, when he retired, in view of his unwillingness to continue.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday granted two weeks time to Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and three other accused to file their response to the Karnataka government’s stand that the services of special judge M.S. Balakrishna could not be extended beyond September 30, when he retired, in view of his unwillingness to continue.

A bench of Justices B.S. Chauhan and S.A. Bobde, after hearing senior counsel Shekar Naphade, granted time on the writ petition filed by them challenging the notification issued by the Karnataka government appointing G.B. Mudigoudar to conduct the disproportionate assets cases against them in a Bangalore court from October 1. Counsel Anita Shenoy, appearing for the State said nothing survived in the petition as the order had been complied with. The Bench, however, granted time and posted the matter for further hearing after two weeks. Besides Ms. Jayalalithaa, the other accused are: V.K. Sasikala V.N. Sudhakaran J. Elavarasi.

Karnataka government said the services of Mr. Balakrishna, who was conducting the trial in the disproportionate assets case against Ms. Jayalalithaa and others, could not be extended beyond September 30, the date of his superannuation as he expressed his unwillingness to continue in service.

It said the Supreme Court had passed the order on September 30 requesting the Karnataka High Court to consider extending the services of Mr. Balakrishna. On the same day Mr. Balakrishna had addressed a letter to the Registrar General of the High Court stating that he could not continue to work as special judge for personal reasons and requested that he might be relieved from the charge of his post on September 30 itself. Accordingly he was relieved.

The State said on October 1 orders were obtained from the High Court for provisionally appointing Mr. Mudigoudar as the Presiding Officer to take charge and the notification was issued on October 3. On October 9, the High Court on its Administrative Committee held a meeting and it was resolved to refer the matter to the Full Court with regard to posting of an officer in the cadre of District Judge to succeed Mr. Balakrishna.

In view of the unwillingness of Mr. Balakrishna to continue, the Full Court at its meeting on October 28 asked the Administrative committee to post a regular Presiding Officer and on October 29 the committee resolved to appoint John Michael Cunha as the special judge to conduct the trial of the DA cases. The notification was issued on October 31 and Mr. Cunha assumed charge as the Presiding Officer on November 7, the State said and sought dismissal of the petition filed by Ms. Jayalalithaa and others.

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