Taking former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on her word that there will be no attempt to delay criminal appeal proceedings in the Karnataka High Court, the Supreme Court on Friday suspended her four-year sentence in the disproportionate assets case and granted her bail.
A three-judge Bench of Chief Justice H.L. Dattu and Justices Madan B. Lokur and A.K. Sikri also suspended the sentences of the three other accused Sasikala, Sudhakaran and Ilavarasi and granted them bail. All the accused have to furnish two solvent sureties to the satisfaction of the Special Judge, Bangalore.
Jayalalithaa’s lawyer and senior counsel Fali S. Nariman argued that continued incarceration of the accused at a crucial stage when her appeal was pending in the High Court would cripple her “valuable right of appeal against conviction” and reduce it to an “exercise in futility”.
“But how many years did you take to complete the trial itself?” Chief Justice Dattu interrupted Mr. Nariman. “Far too many, My Lord,” Mr. Nariman said.
“So, if we pass orders to suspend your sentence now, you will take another two decades to finish the appeal. Should we not take into consideration the conduct of the accused in the Special Court, in the High Court and even in the Supreme Court... the case went on for years and years and years,” Chief Justice Dattu said.
Mr. Nariman said he was willing to give an affidavit on behalf of his client that there would be no delay. But the court decided to repose faith in Mr. Nariman’s oral assurances. It gave the accused exactly two months to prepare the appeal in the High Court. This would be the litmus test of their assurances that they would not delay future proceedings in the 18-year-old case. The case was listed for hearing on December 18, 2014.
“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.
Important dates in Jayalalithaa's DA case
A public interest litigation writ petition was filed in the Supreme Court on Thursday for a direction to the Karnataka government to shift Jayalalithaa from the Central Prison at Parappana Agrahara in Bangalore to the Central Prison, Chennai. ( >Read full story )
October 17, 2014 : Jayalalithaa’s petition will be argued by counsel and senior advocate Fali S. Nariman, while senior advocate Sushil Kumar will appear for co-accused Sasikala and senior advocate K.T.S. Tulsi will represent V. Sudhakaran and J. Elavarasi. BJP leader Subramanian Swamy has impleaded himself in the bail petition as an original complainant in the assets case. ( >Read full story )
October 13, 2014: A three-judge bench led by Chief Justice of India H.L. Dattu, agreed to an urgent plea made by Jayalalithaa's counsel and senior advocate Fali S. Nariman for an early hearing of her petition. The bench held a brief consultation, after which the Chief Justice posted the case for hearing to October 17. ( >Read full story )
October 9, 2014: thirteen days after entering the Parappana Agrahara prison in Bangalore, Jayalalithaa moved the Supreme Court challenging the Karnataka High Court order. ( >Read full story )
October 7, 2014: The Karnataka High Court refused to release her on bail and rejected her plea for suspending the four-year prison sentence imposed by the trial court on September 27 in the disproportionate assets case. ( >Read full story )
Celebrities and their lawyers need to guard against excesses. When imprisoned, celebrities need to persuade their fans not to turn fanatic; any breakdown in law and order would only further postpone the bail hearing ( >Read: Dangers of imperious impatience )
Though AIADMK activists harboured a ray of hope on their leader’s possible release after their lawyers’ wing managed to get the vacation bench to hear Ms. Jayalalithaa’s bail petition, they were disappointed as the case was adjourned shortly after it was taken up for hearing by the judge. ( >Read full story )
October 1, 2014 : Hearing on the bail application of Jayalalithaa was put off to October 7 by the Karnataka High Court, leading to a brief protest by a group of advocates outside the court hall on Wednesday. Vacation judge Justice Rathnakala adjourned the hearing, saying that in her considered view, the appeals should be heard by a regular bench. ( >Read full story )
September 29, 2014 : O. Panneerselvam, staunch loyalist of Jayalalithaa, was sworn in as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu for second time by Governor K. Rosaiah, followed by the induction of other Ministers. The ceremony was emotionally charged with virtually every member of the new Cabinet breaking down. ( >Read full story )
Click >here for the copy> of the Special Court's judgment pertaining to former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa in the disproportionate assets case.
The conviction of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa in the disproportionate assets case by a Special Court in Bangalore is a significant vindication of a vital constitutional principle — that the rule of law be upheld for all citizens including persons in high public office. ( >Editorial: The long road to justice )
September 27, 2014: AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa >was sentenced to four years’ simple imprisonment and a Rs. 100-crore fine was imposed on her for offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act. The three co-accused — Sasikala Natarajan, V. Sudhakaran and J. Elavarasi — were sentenced to four years’ imprisonment with a fine of Rs. 10 crore each. ( >Jayalalithaa bail plea hearing: As it happened )