New Delhi, March 9: The Supreme Court on Monday declined DMK leader K. Anbazhagan’s plea to put on hold the hearing on former Tamil du chief minister J. Jayalalithaa’s challenge to her conviction by the Kartaka High Court in a disproportiote 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 du government had no jurisdiction in appointing Bhavani Singh as SPP and even the Kartaka government too was opposed to his appointment as SPP. Anbazhagan’s plea will come up for fil hearing on March 18.
As counsel T.R. Andhyaruji, 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. Andhyaruji, 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 Andhyaruji, 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, Andhyaruji 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, Andhyaruji said a wrong interpretation was being given to Section 301 of the Code of Crimil 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 Kartaka government, in consultation with the Kartaka High Court chief justice, would appoint SPP to lead the disproportiote 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 riman 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 Kartaka government. A Bengaluru court had on September 27, 2014 convicted Jayalalithaa and her aides Sasikala trajan, V.K. Sudhakaran and J. Ilavarasi in a disproportiote assets case involving Rs.66.65 crore relating to 1991-1966 when she was chief minister of Tamil du for the first time. (ians)