In a major relief to jailed All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief J Jayalalithaa, the Supreme Court on Friday granted her bail in a disproportionate assets case in which she was sentenced to four-year jail term.
A bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu stayed the sentence and warned Jayalalithaa against causing any delay by seeking adjournment in her appeal in Karnataka high court.
The bench directed Jayalalithaa to file paperbook of her appeal in the high court within two months. “If paperbook is not filed within two months, then we won’t give you even a single day more,” the bench said.
It refused to dispose of the bail plea and posted the case for hearing on December 18 to ensure that Jayalalithaa complies with its order. The bench also said that it would ask the high court to dispose of her appeal within three months.
In an hour-long hearing, initially the bench expressed reservation on granting bail to her, saying she had delayed the trial proceedings for years and if she is allowed to come out on bail then appeal would be decided in two decades.
Senior advocate Fali S Nariman, appearing for Jayalalithaa, assured the court that the matter would not be delayed, saying that he was willing to give the statement on affidavit that no adjournment would be taken by her in the high court.
“I undertake that no delay would be caused while appeal is heard by high court. It is not a game. It may have been a game before. You can record my statement,” Nariman told the bench.
The apex court also granted bail to Jayalalithaa’s close aide Sasikala and her relatives V N Sudhakaran, disowned foster-son of the former chief minister, and Ilavarasi.
While pressing for bail in the apex court, Jayalalithaa even pleaded that she is ready to be confined in a house for two-three months till her appeal is decided by the high court. The bench, however, said it cannot pass such an “unusual” order for house confinement and she can either be granted or denied bail.
The bench asked Nariman within how many months would hearing of her appeal be completed.
Nariman replied that he requires six weeks’ time to file the paperbook as it contains 5,000 pages which have to be translated and the hearing can be completed by the high court by the end of January or February next year.
Bharatiya Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy, who had filed a complaint against Jayalalithaa after which probe was conducted against her, strongly opposed the bail plea of the AIADMK chief.
He contended that it is an exceptional case and bail be denied to her. He also raised questions on the law and order problem created in Tamil Nadu by her party workers.
The bench, thereafter, asked Jayalalithaa to direct her party workers not to create such problems and said that it will take serious objection if it comes to know that the disturbances are caused by political workers on her instruction.
Jayalalithaa, who was denied bail by Karnataka high court following her conviction and four year sentence in a graft case, had moved the apex court for bail on October 9.
The AIADMK chief, who has been behind bars since September 27, had challenged the HC order which had refused her bail.
Jayalalithaa had pleaded that she had been sentenced to only four years jail in the case and she was also suffering from various ailments as grounds for her immediate relief.
The former CM had also cited grounds of being senior citizen and woman for getting out of jail. The 66-year-old politician was denied bail by the HC on October 7 despite the special public prosecutor not objecting to grant of conditional bail to her.
The special court had held Jayalalithaa and three others guilty of corruption. The court had also slapped a fine of Rs 100 crore on the AIADMK chief and Rs 10 crore fine on each of the three other convicts.