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Assets case: Charges against me not established, says Jayalalithaa

Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa arrives to attend the Assembly session on Monday. Photo: R. Ragu

Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa arrives to attend the Assembly session on Monday. Photo: R. Ragu  

Noting that it was the will of the people to have her elected with an overwhelming majority, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Monday told the Supreme Court that efforts to challenge and get a stay order on her acquittal in the disproportionate assets case were based on “deep and pervasive antipathy”.

She said the charges of conspiracy and abetment made against her were not established and at best a “myth”.

“The order of acquittal automatically effaces the finding of guilt by the trial court. So long as the order of acquittal is not set aside, the respondent (accused) cannot be subjected to the disabilities attendant upon a conviction,” Ms. Jayalalithaa said in her affidavit countering the petition filed against her acquittal in the disproportionate assets case.

The affidavit follows the issuance of notice by the Bench of Justices P.C. Ghose and R.K. Aggarwal to Ms. Jayalalithaa, her close aide N. Sasikala, V.N. Sudhakaran and J. Elavarasi on the petitions filed by the Karnataka government, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leader K. Anbazhagan and an intervention application filed by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy.

To a demand for stay of her acquittal sought by the Karnataka government and DMK leader K. Anbazhagan in the Supreme Court, the Chief Minister responded that the Karnataka government should have noted that she was a public servant who had recently been re-elected with an overwhelming majority.

“In the election, she trounced all her opponents and none of them could even secure their deposits. The will of the people cannot be defeated with a stay of acquittal,” the affidavit said.

The Karnataka government and Mr. Anbazhagan had called the May 11 High Court judgment delivered by Justice C.R. Kumaraswamy as “cryptic, lacks reasoning and illogical”.

In the affidavit, the Chief Minister countered that no tenable grounds were made out before the Supreme Court that the findings of the Karnataka High Court suffered from any error of law.

She said the High Court had reached its final conclusion on “deep appreciation of facts”.

“The judgment under appeal runs to 919 pages. It has dealt with the evidence and most of the documents have also been noticed in the judgment,” the affidavit read. Countering allegations that certain companies were held in benami trust for Ms. Jayalalithaa, the affidavit said the firms had their own independent means of income, earnings and resources.

She said it was the burden of the prosecution to prove benami property using “exacting standards of proof”, in which they had failed.

The Supreme Court had earlier issued notice on a petition filed by Mr. Anbazhagan challenging the Karnataka High Court order setting aside the confiscation of properties held by Indo-Doha Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals Pvt. Ltd., Signora Enterprises Pvt. Ltd., Ramraj Agro Mills Ltd., Meadow Agro Farms, Riverway Agro Products “for and on behalf of Ms. Jayalalithaa”

She attacked the locus standi of Mr. Anbazhagan, represented by senior advocate T.R. Andhyarujina and advocate V.G. Pragasam, and even questioned the role of the State of Karnataka, saying the original complaint about the disproportionate assets was registered on “source information” given by the Tamil Nadu Department of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption.

The affidavit said that if “strangers are given permission to file appeals against the acquittal, it will amount to legalised means of wrecking private vengeance”.

Highlighting that when an accused is acquitted on an appeal she has an “untrammeled right not to be vexed against at the instance of a third party, who has a political agenda”.

She added that generally even the Code of Criminal Procedure does not give right to any party, including the State, to file an appeal against acquittal.

“Even the statutory right to file an appeal even by the State government, before the High Court, is conditional upon the grant of special leave to appeal... This Honourable Court in Lalu Prasad versus State of Bihar in 2010 has negatived the power of the State Government to file an appeal against acquittal when the prosecuting agency was the CBI,” the affidavit argued.



The clinching argument

The value of disproportionate assets was Rs. 2.82 crore and this value was not enough to convict them on charges of corruption, said Justice C.R. Kumaraswamy in his verdict while disagreeing with the verdict of the Special Court, which had computed the value of DA at Rs. 53.6 crore.

AIADMK chief keeps her plans under wraps

In a statement, Ms. Jayalalithaa said the verdict gave her immense satisfaction and proved that she was innocent. She warned her political opponents to end their conspiracies against her and thanked the partymen and people who prayed for her. But she did not reveal any of her plans. > Read more

What the SPP said

“Counsel for the accused were allowed to make oral arguments for nearly two months, but no prosecutor authorised by Karnataka was present during such arguments,” B.V. Acharya said. > Read more

Comment

>Trial, errors and judgment - Sanjay Hegde

After a long and convoluted progress through the courts, Ms. Jayalalithaa has finally been acquitted by the High Court. But this might not be the end of the morality play, with another appeal looking likely.

>Amma’s apogee moment - A.R. Venkatachalapathy

History, the Marxist cliché goes, repeats itself twice — usually as a tragedy and then as a farce. But sometimes it repeats itself as a bigger tragedy. As the implications of the Karnataka High Court’s blanket acquittal of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa are thrashed threadbare, some crucial cultural questions remain to be explored.

>Where loyalty trumps all - Meera Srinivasan

Loyalty, in a sense, has been the hallmark of Tamil Nadu politics. A person’s political commitment is primarily judged, in political circles, by her steely resolve to stick to a leader no matter what he or she is accused of. So what if critics label their leaders corrupt, authoritarian or power-hungry? “None like our leader,” they will vouch, with unmistakable earnestness.

How DA came to account for less than 10% of income

  • Vigilance probe’s findings:
    Construction costs: Rs.27,79,88, 945
    Marriage expenses: Rs.6,25,04,222
  • High Court’s findings: Construction costs: Rs.5,10,54,060
    Marriage expenses: Rs.28,68,000
  • Exaggerated value:
    Construction costs: Rs.2,69,34,885
    Marriage expenses: Rs.6,16,36,222
  • Total assets:
    Vigilance estimate - Exaggerated value
    Rs. 37,59,02,466
  • Disproportionate assets: Total assets - Total income
  • Rs.37,59,02,466-Rs.34,76,65,654 = Rs.2,82,36,812
  • Rs.2,82,36,812 x 100/Rs.34,76,65,654= 8.12%

The Hindu Editorial

  • > A sensational comeback The Karnataka HC’s judgment absolving Ms. Jayalalithaa of the grave charge that she amassed wealth illegally is undoubtedly a resounding political victory for her.


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Printable version | May 28, 2020 2:00:37 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/assets-case-charges-against-me-not-established-says-jayalalithaa/article7576210.ece

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