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Tuesday, October 16, 2001

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Benefit of procedural violations should go to Sasikalaa: counsel

By Our Special Correspondent

CHENNAI, OCT. 15. There were several procedural violations in the prosecution of those accused in the TANSI land deal-Sasi Enterprises case and the benefit of the violation should accrue to the accused, counsel for Ms. Sasikalaa argued here today.

Placing his arguments before Mr. Justice N. Dinakar in the Madras High Court, in appeals against the TANSI case conviction, counsel Mr. N. Jothi noted that 47 documents which had been marked exhibits by the (then) prosecution were xerox copies. These would amount only to secondary evidence. The prosecution had not explained how these documents came into its possession. The investigating officer had not done this as per Section 91 of the Cr.P.C. This was a procedural violation.

The prosecution must have discharged its onus under Section 65 of the Evidence Act, explaining the grounds for replacing primary evidence (originals of the exhibit documents) with secondary evidence. Not doing so was another violation.

As per a 7-member Supreme Court judgment in the ``A.R. Antulay case'', procedural violation would amount to a substantial violation. This affected the liberty of the accused and thus her fundamental right. Since the fundamental right was violated, no further prejudice was needed to be shown by the accused, counsel said.

Also, the trial judge stated all offences against Ms. Sasikalaa had been proved only on the ground that she lived with A-1 (Ms. Jayalalithaa) and that their firm had purchased the TANSI Enamelled Wires property. This was not in consonance with the established law and the finding of the judge was incorrect, as there was no discussion on this point.

'Sasi Enterprises, highest bidder'

Earlier, Mr. V. A. Bobde, appearing for Ms. Jayalalithaa, argued that the so-called meeting at which the decision to sell the TANSI property to Sasi Enterprises was supposedly taken was held on October 14, 1991, while the tenders were called even four days earlier.

There were three tenderers including Sasi Enterprises, which quoted the highest price, Rs.53 lakhs-plus for the land alone at Rs.4.63 lakhs a ground. The building, plant, machinery and materials within were all quoted at Rs. 10,25,000. This price was later revised to Rs.10,25,400.

Mr. Bobde noted that the trial judge had stated the amount was revised only to get the tender. Even assuming that the amount had not been revised, Sasi Enterprises was still the highest bidder for the TANSI property.

Later, counsel for all the other defendants confined themselves to brief statements.

With the defence counsel closing their arguments, the Special Prosecutor, Mr. K. V. Venkatapathy, will commence his arguments on Wednesday.

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