SC scripts the climax to the two-decade old wealth case

SC dismisses Karnataka review plea in Jaya case

The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed Karnataka’s plea to review the abatement of appeal against former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and recovery of ₹100 crore fine in a disproportionate assets case.

On March 21 last, the Karnataka government moved the review petition in the court.

 

The State said the court's finding in its February 14, 2017 judgment that the corruption case against Ms. Jayalalithaa stood abated with her demise on December 5, 2016 was an “error on the face of the record”, which merits a relook.

In a scathing judgment, based on an appeal filed by Karnataka, a Bench of Justices P.C. Ghose and Amitava Roy made strong observations against Ms. Jayalalithaa, albeit posthumously, of how she had criminally conspired with co-accused V.K. Sasikala at her Poes Garden residence to launder ill-gotten wealth.

 

The Supreme Court set aside the Karnataka High Court's acquittal of Sasikala, V.N. Sudhakaran and J. Ilavarasi in September 2014. All three are serving their sentence in the case.

The Supreme Court, however, concluded that the case against Jayalalithaa stood abated with her death.

“If a party dies after the conclusion of the arguments and the judgment is reserved, there is no question of abatement of appeal and that the judgment subsequently pronounced shall have the same force and effect as if the same was pronounced before the death took place,” Karnataka, represented by counsel Joseph Aristotle, submitted in the review petition.

Justice Ghose's Bench had reserved the judgment after the completion of arguments on June 7, 2016. Jayalalithaa died on December 5, 2016. The Supreme Court pronounced its judgment on February 14, 2017.

 

“There are no provisions either in the Constitution or in the Supreme Court Rules, 2013 for such abatement of appeal. On the other hand, the Supreme Court Rules, 2013 provide that both in case of civil appeals as well as election petitions there will be no abatement if the death takes place after conclusion of hearing,” the review petition contended.

The Karnataka government said though a plea for jail sentence had become “infructuous” now, the Supreme Court should have nevertheless ordered that the Rs. 100 crore fine imposed on Jayalalithaa by the trial court be paid. The fine should have been recovered from her estate.

Karnataka submitted that “even though the question of A 1 (Jayalalithaa) undergoing further imprisonment does not arise, sentence to pay fine is legally sustainable which has to be recovered from the estate. This is particularly so where the offence alleged is of illegally acquiring disproportionate assets. Therefore, the finding that the appeal has abated is not correct”.

It contended, “A criminal appeal involving offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act stand on a slightly different footing where the allegation is of acquisition of disproportionate assets by a public servant... In the circumstances, though the death of the accused no 1 [Jayalalithaa] renders sentence of imprisonment infructuous, the question whether any fine is liable to be imposed as also confiscation of illegally acquired property will survive for consideration.”

Karnataka urged the Supreme Court to modify its February 14 judgment and restore the trial court verdict in toto against Jayalalithaa.

 


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Printable version | Nov 22, 2021 8:14:46 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/supreme-court-dismisses-karnataka-plea-to-review-abatement-of-appeal-against-jayalalithaa/article17825986.ece

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