The Supreme Court on Friday warned against attempts to delay the disproportionate assets case against former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa.
Hearing the plea for bail and suspension of sentence, a Supreme Court Bench of Chief Justice H.L. Dattu and Justices Madan B. Lokur and A.K. Sikri told Fali Nariman, counsel for Jayalalithaa, “You will prepare the paperbooks and keep it ready in two months’ time. We will post this case for December 18. If you are ready, we will ask the Karnataka High Court to hear the appeal in three months. But Mr. Nariman, if the paperbooks are not ready, we will not give you extension for even one day,” Chief Justice Dattu observed.
The hearing started with Mr. Nariman pointing out that the High Court had committed an “error” by banking on the 2012 case law – State of Maharashtra through CBI, Anti-Corruption Branch, Mumbai vs. Balakrishna Dattatrya Kumbhar – which dealt with stay of conviction and not suspension of sentence.
Mr. Nariman said using the 2012 case law to note that “corruption is a violation of human rights” in a limited question of suspension of sentence was wrong.
Chief Justice Dattu intervened to point out that the High Court judge was merely referring to the harm caused by “white-collar crimes.”
On this, Mr. Nariman deftly accepted that a stay on conviction, as the 2012 case law dealt with, would cause a dent in the nation’s fight against corruption. But he stopped short there to add that suspension of sentence during pendency of criminal appeal, on the other hand, is a valuable right. It afforded the accused a fair chance to prepare for her defence in a higher court of law.
He argued that the Special Court convicted his client by “completely ignoring a series of evidence on income and assessments placed before it to show that there is no case made out against her under the Prevention of Corruption Act”.
Swamy’s warning Making his submissions, Subramanian Swamy, the original complainant in the case, opposed the accused persons’ petitions for bail. He submitted that the accused had treated the courts with scant respect in the past.
He blamed the accused for the lawlessness in Tamil Nadu in the past few days. “She could have put a stop to the violence. There was rampant lawlessness in the State. One command from her was enough. But she has not. Her entire Cabinet is in Karnataka. Her Cabinet cannot take oath without crying,” Mr. Swamy submitted.
“Her party workers are unruly, what can she do? Is there anything to show that she ordered the violence?” the Chief Justice asked Mr. Swamy.