One of the first things that the new special judge John Michael Cunha,appointed to try the 1997 disproportionate assets case against Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa,will have to do is decide on a DMK application to bring to Bangalore 800 kg of silver,28 kg gold,10,500 saris,91 watches and 750 pairs of footwear that were seized during a raid in 1997 in Chennai.
The DMK application asking for all the material seized from Jayalalithaa to be produced physically before a special court before the trial proceeds is one of two pending applications before the special court in Bangalore that is trying the assets case. The seized material is currently lying in the treasury and with the RBI at Chennai.
The application to bring back all the seized goods from 1997 has been pending for over two months as the trial in the Rs 66.65 crore disproportionate wealth case which is approaching its end was stalled following legal disputes being raised by the DMK and Jayalalithaa over the conduct of the case in the special court.
The earlier judge M S Balakrishna who was trying the case retired on September 30 and a new judge John Michael Cunha was appointed by the Karnataka HC on October 31 as the special judge. The appointment is subject to a notification to be issued by the state government.
The DMK has filed the application seeking production of all the jewelry and other items in the special court as evidence in the disproportionate assets case against Jayalalithaa which dates back to her first of three terms as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.
The seized goods have remained in Chennai since the start of the trial in Karnataka in 2003 as court officers in Bangalore have not issued orders for its production on account of the issue of the logistics of transporting it and keeping it in safe custody,sources said.
The DMK is now seeking physical production of the sei-zed goods as material evidence in the trial against its arch rival. In the course of a writ petition in the Karnataka High Court earlier this year over alleged subversion of the trial,DMK general secretary K Anbazhagan had stated that the trial court before commencing final arguments should have sought the seized material.
Without bringing them physically before the trial court no judgment could be passed in this case, the DMK general secretary argued in the writ petition. The second application pending for decision before the new trial judge at the special court for the Jayalalithaa case pertains to the recall of an investigating officer Nallama Naidu. The DMK has said that the special court should summon the investigating officer to clarify the testimony of another investigating officer Sambandam who was examined as a defence witness.
The Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalithaa and the DMK have been embroiled in a long battle over Jayalalithaas disproportionate assets case. The DMK is pushing for a conviction of the Tamil Nadu CM which following recent Supreme Court orders could politically curtail Jayalalithaa.
The case against Jayalalithaa was initiated in 1997 by the DMK government in Tamil Nadu and was transferred to Karnataka by the Supreme Court in 2003 on a plea by K Anbazhagan who accused the AIADMK government,which returned to power in May 2001,of subverting the case.