The Supreme Court will hear on Tuesday a special leave petition filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) challenging a Madras High Court judgment setting aside the ‘three lakh US dollars case' against Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on the ground of inordinate and unexplained delay in the investigation and trial stage.
A Bench headed by Justice Altamas Kabir will hear the appeal against the impugned judgment dated September 30, 2011 pronounced on the petition filed by Ms. Jayalalithaa praying for quashing the FIR.
The CBI's allegation against Ms. Jayalalithaa was that while functioning as Chief Minister, she accepted 89 demand drafts worth Rs.2,00,00,012 drawn in her favour from various banks in Tamil Nadu in the names of 57 persons on the occasion of her birthday in 1992 and received Rs.15 lakh in cash, totalling Rs. 2,15,00,012 and disclosed the same in her Income Tax returns as gifts.
She also received remittance of $3 lakh by way of demand draft dated December 23, 1991 issued by Bankers Trust Company, New York, drawn on ANZ Grindlays Bank, St. Halia, Jersey.
Investigation revealed that there was no evidence in respect of the first offence and investigation was continued regarding the receipt of $3 lakh.
Acting on a petition from Ms. Jayalalithaa that there was inordinate delay in the investigation and trial, the High Court quashed the proceedings. The appeal is directed against this judgment.
The CBI in its appeal contended that though the alleged offence took place in 1992, it came to the notice of the Income Tax Department only in 1996 and was communicated to the Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary for taking action. There was no delay.
The High Court ought to have seen that as per the allegation in the FIR, detailed investigation was to be conducted in various countries, the U.S., U.K. and the UAE, which took considerable time. In the light of the material available, without testing them at the trial, proceedings could not be quashed merely on the ground of delay, the CBI said and prayed for quashing the impugned judgment and interim stay of its operation.