Jayalalithaa moves Supreme Court for bail

AIADMK general secretary Jayalalithaa on Thursday petitioned the Supreme Court seeking bail in the disproportionate wealth case. File photo: M. Prabhu  

Thirteen days after entering the Parappana Agrahara prison in Bangalore, three-time former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Thursday moved the Supreme Court challenging the October 7 Karnataka High Court order refusing to suspend the execution of her sentence and grant bail in a disproportionate assets case.

Ms. Jayalalithaa, who was Tamil Nadu Chief Minister at the time of her conviction, was sentenced to four years’ simple imprisonment and ordered to pay a fine of Rs. 100 crore for offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act. Her co-accused — Sasikala Natarajan, V. Sudhakaran and J. Elavarasi — were sentenced to four years’ imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 10 crore each.

The special leave petition was filed by her legal team in the Supreme Court Registry during the evening after hectic preparations which went on through the day.

Lawyers of Ms. Jayalalithaa said the petition sought relief from incarceration on the grounds that she is a woman, 66-years old and suffering from ailments.

AIADMK sources said the petition contended that the Karnataka High Court would take the next four years to finally decide her pending appeal, during which she would have to suffer in prison. Once an appeal was admitted, granting of bail and suspension of sentence followed naturally.

'Bail is the norm'

Ms. Jayalalithaa’s lawyers said the special leave petition they had moved in the Supreme Court contended that she had been sentenced to a term of ‘simple’ and not ‘rigorous’ imprisonment, and in such cases grant of bail was the norm. It argued that bail was the rule and this relief could only be denied in exceptional circumstances, of which there was none in the present case.

The High Court had termed corruption as a violation of human rights quoting the 2012 Supreme Court judgment in the State of Maharashtra through CBI versus Balakrishna Dattatrya Kumbhar.

However, Ms. Jayalalithaa’s lawyers are likely to plead that this verdict quoted by the Karnataka High Court was delivered in a matter seeking stay on conviction. In the current plea, only suspension of execution of sentence was sought.

Ms. Jayalalithaa’s legal team would be pushing for an early hearing.

The Karnataka High Court had dismissed Ms. Jayalalithaa’s contentions that she should be granted bail on the ground that the accused had no past record of misusing her liberty to hamper proceedings in the case.

Rejecting arguments by Mr. Jethmalani that Ms. Jayalalithaa was “entitled” to bail, the court had observed that suspension of sentence and bail prescribed under Section 389 Cr.PC rested entirely on the discretion of the Appellate Court. It said the relief under the provision could not be equated to grant of bail during the pre-trial stage.

“The word ‘may’ used in Section 389 Cr.PC does not say that it is an absolute right of the accused to seek suspension of sentence,” the High Court order had read.

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Printable version | Sep 26, 2021 6:09:46 PM |

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