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|December 21, 1998||
Special judge dismisses Jaya's petition, initiates trial in Kodaikanal hotel case
Trial in the Kodaikanal Pleasant Stay Hotel case, in which All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazagham general secretary J Jayalalitha is the main accused, commenced today with special judge-2 V Radhakrishnan dismissing a petition filed by Jayalalitha, seeking a stay on the proceedings citing the Centre's affidavit filed before the Supreme Court to constitute fresh special courts to hear corruption cases during her tenure as chief minister.
Pointing out that the apex court had not stayed the trial proceedings in the case, Radhakrishnan dismissed her petition, following which trial commenced in the case.
The judge also dismissed another petition filed by Jayalalitha seeking a stay on the trial proceedings, stating that she was moving the Madras high court citing the Centre's affidavit.
Jayalalitha was not present in the court as she had already been exempted by the judge from personal appearance except whenever necessary.
Three other accused in the case, except Palai Shanmugam, were present in the court when the trial commenced, with the prosecution examining Samanta Ray, director of vigilance in the Union department of personnel, who had accorded sanction to prosecute former IAS official H M Pandey, one of the accused in the case.
Samanta Ray deposed before the judge that he had received, on January 11, 1997, the state government's proposal seeking sanction for prosecution of Pandey, who was the local administration secretary when the hotel management was allowed to construct the multi-storeyed buildings at Kodaikanal in violation of norms.
The proposal contained 48 documents, including statements of witnesses recorded by the state crime branch (CID) which had investigated the case, he stated.
Ray said the documents were processed and sent to the then Union minister of state for personnel S R Balasubramaniam and the then prime minister H D Deve Gowda in the last week of February 1997.
After their clearance, sanction was accorded on March 10, 1997, to prosecute Pandey and the same was communicated to the state government the next day, he added.
The judge said the cross-examination of Pandey would be taken up tomorrow after which the trial would resume on January 6. The other accused in the case are: former local administration minister T M Selvaganapathy and Pleasant Stay managing director Rakesh Mittal.
Meanwhile, the Centre has written to the Tamil Nadu chief secretary stating that it would consult the Madras high court chief justice on constituting fresh special courts to hear corruption cases during the previous AIADMK regime, including those in which Jayalalitha is the main accused.
This was disclosed in a petition filed by Jayalalitha before special judge-2, V Radhakrishnan, seeking an adjournment of the trial proceedings in the case relating to her grant of permission for constructing the multi-storeyed Pleasant Stay Hotel.
In her petition, Jayalalitha said the Centre's letter to the chief secretary dated December 18 also drew his attention to the affidavit filed by Attorney-General Soli Sorabjee before the Supreme Court on December 17, that the Centre alone had the powers to constitute more than one special court under section 4(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
According to the affidavit, the state government notification dated April 30, 1997, had indirectly sought to exercise powers which it did not possess, she pointed out.
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