Tamil Nadu

Conclusions in HC verdict ‘border on perversity’

A file photo of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa.

A file photo of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa.  

Says judge took an erroneous approach and failed to consider evidence

Karnataka’s petition in the Supreme Court on Tuesday against the acquittal of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa in the disproportionate assets case said the High Court judge “with a pre-conceived notion, proceeded to consider the case on a few aspects and then concluded that in the present case, the disproportionate assets were only to the extent of 8.12 per cent and therefore all the accused were entitled to an order of acquittal”.

The judge further erred in holding that the loans of nationalised banks were not considered by the prosecuting agency, while, in fact, it had been done, the petition said.

The High Court judge “failed in his duties as an appellate judge” and his verdict was vitiated for his erroneous approach and failure to consider material evidence on record.

Noting that the conclusions reached in the judgment “border on perversity”, the petition objected to Justice C.R. Kumaraswamy’s reasoning that the Karnataka government not getting a reasonable opportunity to act as a prosecuting agency was only a “curable irregularity”.

“In effect, the appeals were disposed of ex parte, without the sole prosecuting agency being a party and without the presence of a validly appointed public prosecutor,” the petition said.

The petition objected to how Justice Kumaraswamy went the extra mile by glossing over the fact that Karnataka was reduced to a non-entity in the appeal proceedings before the High Court.

“The learned judge observed that the pendency of the appeals had been widely reported in the media, and therefore, the Karnataka government must have been aware of the proceedings,” the petition said.

The petition further contended that the appeals were heard without even a valid appointment of a special public prosecutor.

The petition said Justice Kumaraswamy erred in portraying as “settled law” the logic used in the 1977 Krishnanand Agnihotri case that an offence was not made out if the disproportionate assets were found to be less than 10 per cent of the income. It said the logic did not apply in this case as the disproportionate assets ran into crores.

“In the Agnihotri case, the excess asset found was Rs. 11,350 and the check period was 13 years. The Supreme Court had acquitted the accused in that case since the excess was comparatively small,” the petition said.

Moreover, at one point, the High Court judge erred by ignoring the admissions of the accused themselves as regards consideration paid towards sale of immovable properties in determining the cost of construction and business income of Jaya Publications.

The petition said the High Court judge had ignored settled principles of law by not considering the case of conspiracy and abetment involving the accused persons.



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 | Apr 10, 2020 12:26:05 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/conclusions-in-hc-verdict-border-on-perversity/article7347796.ece

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