In a big relief to former Union Minister M.K. Alagiri, the Supreme Court on Monday refused to entertain a special leave petition filed by the Tamil Nadu government challenging the order of the Chittoor Sessions court acquitting Mr. Alagiri and 12 other accused persons in the Tha. Kiruttinan murder case.
A Bench of Justices B.S. Chauhan and S.A. Bobde told senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, who appeared for the State government, that the State had no locus standi to file the appeal as after the case was transferred, it was the Andhra Pradesh government which could file the appeal. Justice Chauhan told the counsel “the law is well settled that once the case is transferred to another State, you [Tamil Nadu] loses jurisdiction to file the appeal.”
Mr. Rohatgi submitted that it was a mock trial as the witnesses turned hostile and all the accused were acquitted by the trial court and there was grave miscarriage of justice.
When he said the AP government was not interested in prosecuting the appeal, Justice Chauhan said “now victim can file the appeal. We have full sympathy for the State. We can’t interfere after a delay of over five years. Moreover you have come directly against the trial court order. We can’t entertain an appeal against the trial court order.”
When Mr. Rohatgi said “our difficulty is we can’t go to the Andhra Pradesh High Court, Justice Chauhan said “If you can’t file an appeal in the High Court of Andhra Pradesh the victim can go.”
In its special leave petition, the State said the case was transferred to Chittoor by the Supreme Court in August 2007. “Mr. Alagiri is the son of the former Chief Minister of the Tamil Nadu and his father was the Chief Minister during the period of trial in Andhra Pradesh. The party in power in Tamil Nadu during the trial was also an important constituent of the U.P.A. government which is in power.”
The SLP said the witnesses turned hostile but they were not confronted with their statements made under Section 164 Cr.P.C. As a result the trial got completely vitiated and all the accused were acquitted.
The SLP said thereafter Tamil Nadu which was ruled by the DMK party did not direct the Public Prosecutor to file an appeal. Instead the State government sought an opinion from the Public Prosecutor, Chittoor, as to whether an appeal should be preferred against the order of acquittal. The Public Prosecutor opined that there were no sufficient grounds to prefer any appeal. After the AIADMK government came to power, the government by a letter on January 5, 2011, requested the Andhra Pradesh government to direct its Public Prosecutor to file an appeal before the Andhra Pradesh High Court. Instead of directing the public prosecutor to file an appeal, the AP government sought an opinion as to whether an appeal should be filed or not and the public prosecutor of the Andhra Pradesh High Court gave an opinion that this was not a fit case to prefer an appeal.
The SLP said Tamil Nadu could not file an appeal or cannot direct the public prosecutor of Andhra Pradesh who had been appointed in consultation with the High Court of Andhra Pradesh to file an appeal.
Hence it had to prefer the appeal directly against the trial court order, Tamil Nadu said.