The Supreme Court on Wednesday quashed two criminal cases filed by the Election Commission against AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa in Bhuvanagiri and Pudukottai on the charge of filing false affidavits during the 2001 Tamil Nadu Assembly polls when she filed four nominations.
A Bench of Justices H.L. Dattu and C.K. Prasad directed the Madras High Court to dispose of afresh the writ petition filed by the former DMK MP, Kuppusamy, after taking into consideration the reports of the Returning Officers of Bhuvanagiri and Pudukottai expeditiously, preferably in four months. It quashed the proceedings already initiated by the EC pursuant to the High Court’s directions.
The Returning Officers maintained that Ms. Jayalalithaa had not suppressed anything as she had indirectly accepted her filing of papers in two other constituencies — Krishnagiri and Andipatti — and the necessity of taking action for giving a false declaration did not arise.
All four nominations were rejected as she was disqualified to contest the polls at that time following her conviction in the ‘TANSI land deal case’.
Filing nominations in more than two constituencies is an electoral offence. As the Returning Officers did not take action against Ms. Jayalalithaa when complaints were filed, Mr. Kuppusamy filed a writ petition in the High Court, which in June 2007 directed the EC to register criminal cases against her.
The High Court held that Ms. Jayalalithaa’s declaration in the third (Bhuvanagiri) and fourth (Pudukottai) constituencies that she had not been nominated from more than two segments was “false to her own knowledge and amounts to violation of Section 33(7) (b) of the Representation of the People Act [under this provision a candidate cannot contest from more than two constituencies].” Ms. Jayalalithaa challenged the High Court order and the Supreme Court in July 2007 stayed all further proceedings in these cases.
The EC, in its response, said if a candidate filed four nominations, the third and fourth were not maintainable under Section 33 (7) of the Act and prima facie it appeared that this provision had been violated. It acted as per the directions of the High Court.
Senior counsel U.U. Lalit appeared for the Chief Minister in the Supreme Court. Senior counsel Altaf Ahmed and R. Shanmugasundaram and counsel V.G. Pragasam appeared for Mr. Kuppusamy.