Bangalore Current Affairs
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The High Court of Karnataka has denied bail to Jayalalitha in the disproportionate assets case. The Special Public Prosecutor raised no objection to granting of bail to Jayalalitha. The lawyer for the defense, Ram Jethmalani, argued vehemently for the release of Jayalalitha, calling it a case of political vendetta. He cited the case of Lalu Prasad Yadav being granted bail by the SC (after being convicted in the fodder scam) as a precedent to take into consideration while deciding whether bail must be granted to Jayalalitha.
Jethmalani also prayed for the suspension of the sentence pending appeal.
Rationale behind judgment
Justice Chandrasekhara refused to grant bail saying that there were no grounds for the Court to grant bail. Citing SC judgments, he opined that corruption amounted to violation of basic human rights, and that it led to economic imbalances in society. The judge also said that the SC had made it clear that cases relating to corruption must be fast-tracked.
He also refused to consider the Lalu Yadav case as a precedent, because he had been granted bail by the SC on an appeal from the HC judgment that denied him bail. Also, he had spent 10 months in jail already when the SC granted him bail. Jayalalitha, on the other hand, has not been in jail even for a month.
The judge also refused to suspend the judgment of the Special Court. He cited several cases of the SC under the Prevention of Corruption Act to validate his ruling that the case was not fit for granting either bail or suspension of sentence.
Future course of action
Jayalalitha’s legal team is likely to appeal the judgment denying bail in the SC. It is also expected that she will ask for a suspension of the four year sentence awarded by the Special Court Judge.
Disproportionate Assets Case
Jayalalitha was the first serving CM to be convicted in a corruption case when a Special Court convicted her of holding assets disproportionate to her income. She was sentenced to four years prison and a fine of Rs. 100 crore. Also, she has been disqualified from contesting elections for the next 10 years under the Representation of People’s Act.
The 18 year long corruption case against former CM of TN (Tamil Nadu), J. Jayalalitha, reached its conclusion when a special court in Bangalore presided by Special Judge John D’Cunha convicted her under the Prevention of Corruption Act. She was sentenced to four years imprisonment and levied a fine of Rs. 100 cr. The charge against her was of holding assets of Rs. 66.65 cr that were disproportionate to her known sources of income. This verdict marks the first ever conviction of a serving Chief Minister.
Two aides of Jayalalitha and her now disowned foster son were also convicted in this case.
After the sentence, Jayalalitha was taken to the Parappana Agrahara jail in Bangalore. Since she was sentenced to a period of more than three years, she will have to approach the HC of Karnataka for bail. She is also expected to file an appeal challenging the order of conviction. As of now, she stands disqualified as an MLA in accordance with the Representation of People’s Act, which also prohibits her from contesting elections for a period of six years after she finishes serving the sentence. However, if the order of conviction is stayed or overruled by a higher court, the disqualification will be annulled.
This is not the first instance of Jayalalitha having to step down as CM. In 2001, she had to step down temporarily till a higher court overturned the decision which sentenced her to two years rigorous imprisonment on a land deal case.
It has been decided that O.Paneerselvam, who was the Finance Minister of TN, will take Jayalalitha’s place as CM, following a meeting of the party’s MLAs. Mr. Paneerselvam had also served as CM for a period of six months in 2001 after Jayalalitha had resigned.
After the verdict was announced, incidents of violence were witnessed in various parts of Tamil Nadu. AIADMK supporters burnt effigies of leaders of opposing parties and went on a rampage destroying public properties. Shops were shut down and instances of buses being broken or burnt were also reported.