The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a petition of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, seeking the quashing of a disproportionate assets case, the trial in which is to commence in Karnataka.
A bench comprising Justices B Sudershan Reddy and S S Nijjar dismissed the plea of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam supremo that the Karnataka high court had erred while holding that the trial court order taking congnisance of the complaint on June 5, 1997, did not suffer from any illegality or irregularity.
The apex court had on March 19 refused to stay the trial in the 14-year-old case while directing the trial court to fix a time frame for cross examination of the 42 witnesses after giving sufficient opportunity to Jayalalithaa. The AIADMK supremo had approached the apex court challenging the March 10 verdict of the Karnataka high court.
The case was transferred to a Bangalore court by the Supreme Court in 2003 during her chief ministership on a petition by Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam leader K Anbazhagan saying the manner in which the Chennai trial court had proceeded with the case raised doubts over a free and fair trial. Assailing the March 10 order of the high court, Jayalalithaa had submitted the chargesheet did not make out any case against her.
The petition had said the Special Judge, Chennai, had not applied his mind and had mechanically taken cognisance of the chargesheet of June 5, 1997. It had also alleged that the case was transferred at the instance of her political rivals in Tamil Nadu. The AIADMK chief is accused of amassing Rs 66.65 crore between 1991 and 1996 when she was the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.
Her appeal had pointed out that the high court did not address the specific issues raised by her and, hence, its order was unsustainable in law. The high court had rejected Jayalalithaa's plea for quashing a 1997 order of a Chennai trial court which took cognisance of Tamil Nadu Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption's complaint that she amassed wealth disproportionate to her known sources of income during that period.
The high court had said Jayalalithaa was 'ably represented by eminent lawyers' and had participated in the trial of the case during which 200 witnesses were examined and cross-examined over a 13-year period.
"It is not open for her now to seek quashing of the proceedings on the premise that the order taking cognisance of the offence passed on June 5, 1997, is a nullity and is not in accordance with law," it had said in the order.