Bengaluru | The Karnataka High Court today questioned Special Public Prosecutor Bhavani Singh on several alleged irregularities raised by former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalaitha’s counsel B Kumar in the disproportionate assets case against her.
Intervening when the SPP was making his submissions during the hearing of Jayalalithaa’s appeal against her conviction by a special court, Justice C R Kumaraswamy questioned Singh on how the Investigating Officer N Nallamma Naidu had carried with him the search warrant to Poes Garden knowing fully well that Jayalalithaa would be arrested on December 7, 1996.
The Judge is chairing the special bench formed after the Supreme Court had on December 18 last directed the Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court to constitute it to decide within three months Jayalalithaa’s appeal against her conviction.
The SPP made the submissions on Jayalalithaa allegedly accumulating Rs 66.65 crore of wealth disproportionate to known sources of income during her first term as Chief Minister between 1991 to 1996.
Justice Kumaraswamy also questioned the action of the Investigating Officer in conducting the search at the Poes Garden without following ingrained laws. Why the search was conducted in Poes Garden (in the absence of Jayalalithaa) when the presence of the accused was required as per law? he said.
Even if Jayalalithaa was incarcerated, she could have been brought to her house on a body warrant for the search, he said.
On the seizure of the jewellery, the Judge asked why the investigating officer did not enquire when the precious items were acquired because for computing the value of the jewellery the year of acquisition should be taken.
You seized jewellery – did you enquire when it was acquired because to compute the value of it you must take year of acquisition. That also you haven’t done, he said.
In reply to the queries raised by Justice Kumaraswamy, Singh sought five days time to give proper replies. The Judge said he would consider the request at the later stage of the proceedings.
Earlier, making his submissions, Kumar questioned the then DMK government conducting search operations when Jayalalithaa and Sasikala, her close confidant and co-accused, were lodged in the central jail in Chennai following their arrest.
The FIR was filed against the accused on September 18, 1996, but next three months no search was conducted at Poes Garden. It was conducted when both Jayalalithaa and Sasikala were incarcerated. The investigating officials manoeuvred to effect the search wantonly, he claimed.
Kumar also submitted that the investigating officials also violated the laws pertaining to right to privacy when the Sun TV, owned by Kalanidhi Maran, a relative of DMK supremo M Karunanidhi, repeatedly aired all portions of the house including toilets and photo albums.
They also kept the house under their control for five days. They did this to allow Sun TV to videograph all portions of the house, including toilet and photo albums, to repeatedly broadcast only to cause serious embarrassment to Jayalalithaa and Sasikala. This affects Right to Privacy. Therefore, all procedures were unfair, Kumar added.
A Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu, had granted bail to Jayalalithaa on the condition that hearing on her appeal against conviction in the High court should be completed in three months from December 18.
The special court had held Jayalalithaa and three others guilty of corruption. The court had awarded four years jail term and also slapped a fine of Rs 100 crore on the AIADMK chief. The court also imposed a fine of Rs 10 crore each on the three other convicts.
Apart from Jayalalithaa, Sasikala and her relatives Sudhakaran, erstwhile foster son of the AIADMK leader, and Elavarasi were also convicted.
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