The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a petition questioning the continuance in office of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on account of her scheduled appearance in a Bangalore trial court in a disproportionate assets case.
“The petition is frivolous. We would have imposed exemplary costs,” a Bench of Justices Dalveer Bhandari and Dipak Mishra said, dismissing the petition.
The court passed the order after counsel Manohar Lal Sharma, appearing for the petitioners, sought permission to amend the petition and submitted that the Chief Minister being the head of the government the prosecution agency was bound to influence the course of the trial.
“How can you file a PIL [petition] on such assumptions? It is a frivolous petition,” the Bench said.
Seeking the issue of a writ of quo warranto, the petitioners — advocate Sateesh Galla and I. Venkata Hari Krishna and K.R. Ramaswamy — had urged the court to summon records pertaining to the 14-year-old case.
A writ of quo warranto is a directive issued by the Supreme Court or the High Court to a person asking him/her to prove the authority or right to hold a particular post. The former Central Vigilance Commissioner, P.J. Thomas, was removed by the government after the Supreme Court upheld a writ of quo warranto filed by the Centre for Public Interest Litigation.
The Supreme Court had earlier dismissed Ms. Jayalalithaa's petition and directed her to personally appear before the trial court for recording her statement under Section 313 of the Cr.PC in the case relating to the alleged accumulation of more than Rs.65 crore between 1991 and 1996.
“The petitioner submits that the institutional integrity of the office of the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu seriously suffers because of the lack of personal integrity of the respondent No.1 [Ms. Jayalalithaa] when she is occupying the office … even while being a prime accused in [the] disproportionate case,” said the petition filed through advocate N. Rajaraman. The continuance of Ms. Jayalalithaa as Chief Minister “has seriously defeated the purpose of a fair trial and speedy justice available to the citizens of Tamil Nadu.”
The petitioners wondered whether a Chief Minister, who was a prime accused in the case and forced to appear before a trial court, could continue in office, especially when Ashok Chavan and B.S. Yeddyurappa resigned as Chief Ministers of Maharashtra and Karnataka after allegations of corruption were levelled against them.
The petition urged the court to lay down guidelines for ensuring a speedy trial in high-profile cases of corruption involving top politicians and bureaucrats.