Special judge rejects ex-minister
Sengottaiyan's plea for stay
Special Judge-1 S Sambandam today again said that the Centre's notification transferring the corruption cases against former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalitha and others, pending before him and two other special judges, to sessions courts was issued without authority and should be rejected.
He made the observation while dismissing a petition filed by former state minister K A Sengottaiyan.
Sengottaiyan, a politician of the All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, had sought a stay of his trial, which began on December 23, in the Rs21.8 million Jeeva Transport Corporation case till the Supreme Court decides on the validity of the notification.
But the judge said the Union government could not transfer pending cases from one court to another. Only the high court could do that. Viewed from any angle, the notification is not maintainable, he added.
Sambandam said if those who had framed the Prevention of Corruption Act had thought it necessary to vest the Centre with vast powers, they would have mentioned them. But in the absence of such powers, the Centre could not interfere with the special courts constituted to try a group of cases.
He said the state government had constituted the special courts only for a group of cases being investigated by the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption and the crime branch of the state police's criminal investigation department. It is a clear case of grouping of cases, he added.
Sambandam said it was clear from a plain reading of section 4(2) of the PCA that "where more than one special judge is appointed for an area or areas, the Centre may, by a notification, specify by whom the cases should be tried". The word 'may' assumes significance in this context, he pointed out.
He recalled that in 1995, two special courts had been constituted in Madras by the state government to try cases investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation. The Centre had then agreed to reimburse the expenditure incurred for setting up the courts. But in the present case, the Centre has remained silent on the matter. This shows the notification was issued in a hurried manner, he added.
He said that since the notification is not valid in law, the issue of whether he has the jurisdiction to try the case is not maintainable.
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