B.S. Ramesh

BANGALORE: The disproportionate assets case against former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Thursday took a new turn when a Special Court here dismissed an application by the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC), Chennai, seeking permission to withdraw prosecution against her in the London hotels case. It relates to acquisition of assets (two hotels) in London by Ms. Jayalalithaa and T.T. V. Dinakaran. In its application, the DVAC stated that during the pendency of the disproportionate assets case against Ms. Jayalalithaa and others before the 11th Additional Special Judge, Chennai, another charge sheet was filed against her and Mr. Dinakaran. Both the cases were subsequently transferred by the Supreme Court to the 34th Additional Sessions Court (Special Court), Bangalore.

The DVAC said the present application was filed only in respect of the second charge sheet and did not pertain to the first one. While the first case pertained to the acquisition of assets in India, the second related to acquisition of property abroad.

B.V. Acharya, Special Public Prosecutor, said that he had gone through the original records, case diary and other relevant material of the second case, which was still in the custody of the DVAC. A final report on further investigation of this case was yet to be filed.

He said that on July 22, 2001, a new Investigating Officer, Subburam (Additional Superintendent of Police), had obtained permission under Section 173 (8) of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cr. PC) from the Special Judge, Chennai, for further investigation into the second case.

After further investigation was conducted, S. Subramaniam, IRS, was examined as a witness and his statement recorded. It ruled out the involvement of Ms. Jayalalithaa in the second case. The statement of some other witnesses recorded during further investigation weakened the case of the prosecution.

Witness abroad

The application stated there were nine witnesses residing abroad and that it might not be possible to secure their presence for examination. Though there was evidence regarding acquisition of the property in London and its subsequent disposal, it would be difficult to prove the connection between the sources illegally acquired in India by a public servant and payment for the sale abroad.

The charges in the second case were likely to fail for paucity of evidence and prospect of successful prosecution is remote. Therefore, Mr. Acharya said, he had formed an opinion that it would be just and proper to withdraw from prosecution in the second case and peruse the first case in which the trial was nearing completion.

Dismissing the application, the Special Judge, B.V. Mallikarjunaiah, said the prosecution could not take a stand that it could not examine the witnesses. He said that the statement of witnesses, even if they were abroad, could be obtained.