news Tuesday, March 10, 2015 - 05:30
The News Minute | March 10, 2015 | 04:39 pm IST New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday declined DMK leader K. Anbazhagan's plea to put on hold the hearing on former Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalithaa's challenge to her conviction by the Karnataka High Court in a disproportionate assets case. The apex court also said it would examine whether the presence of G. Bhawani Singh as special public prosecutor (SPP) vitiated the hearing of the appeal. The bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel agreed to examine the plea by Anbazhagan who contended that the Tamil Nadu government had no jurisdiction in appointing Bhavani Singh as SPP and even the Karnataka government too was opposed to his appointment as SPP. Anbazhagan's plea will come up for final hearing on March 18. As counsel T.R. Andhyarujina, appearing for Anbazhagan, reiterated his argument that "(the hearing of) this appeal is vitiated by the presence of SPP Bhavani Singh who has no authority to appear before the high court", Justice Lokur asked: "T.R. Andhyarujina, will you make this submission if the high court upholds the order of conviction by the trial court?" "Supposing the conviction is upheld, you may not remain aggrieved, and if it is not upheld, then you can agitate your objection of appeal being vitiated," the court told Andhyarujina, who replied: "I will be happy if conviction is upheld." Taking the court through the proceedings of the trial court and its observations about the conduct of Bhavani Singh, Andhyarujina told the court that Bhavani Singh's "credibility was doubtful". Urging the court to hear their objections on the presence of Bhavani Singh as SPP before the high court hearing Jayalalithaa's appeal against her conviction, Andhyarujina said a wrong interpretation was being given to Section 301 of the Code of Criminal Procedure to allow the continued presence of Singh even before the high court. The counsel told the apex court that by its earlier order, it had said that the Karnataka government, in consultation with the Karnataka High Court chief justice, would appoint SPP to lead the disproportionate assets case against Jayalalithaa before the trial court and Bhavani Singh ceases in that role after Jayalalithaa was convicted and sentenced by the trial court. He said the high court's interpretation of Section 301 of CrPC was "incorrect" that Bhavani Singh could continue to appear before it in the case. Section 301 says the public prosecutor in charge of a case may appear and plead without any written authority before any Court in which that case is under inquiry, trial or appeal. Appearing for Jayalalithaa, counsel Fali Nariman said the apex court had asked the high court to complete the hearing and pronounce the verdict by April 13 and the latest proceedings would delay the deadline of April 13. Saying that it was not putting on hold the hearing of the appeal by the high court, the apex court issued notice to the Karnataka government. A Bengaluru court had on September 27, 2014 convicted Jayalalithaa and her aides Sasikala Natrajan, V.K. Sudhakaran and J. Ilavarasi in a disproportionate assets case involving Rs.66.65 crore relating to 1991-1966 when she was chief minister of Tamil Nadu for the first time. Convicting Jayalalithaa for possessing assets disproportionate to her known sources of income, the trial court sentenced her to four years simple imprisonment along with Rs.100 crore fine. Jayalalithaa and her aides were granted bail by the apex court on October 17, 2014, with a rider that she would complete the filing of her appeal before the high court within two months by December 18 - a direction she complied with. The apex court had on December 18 extended the bail of Jayalalithaa and three others for four months while asking the high court to decide on her appeal challenging her conviction within three months by holding hearing on day-to-day basis. With IANS

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