10 yrs later,Jaya assets case back to square one

Lok Sabha polls near,the case has again assumed significance as conviction is bound to come in the way of Jayalalithaa’s political aspirations.

Written by Johnson T A | Bangalore | Published: August 29, 2013 2:21 am

After over a decade,and passing through the hands of five public prosecutors and six judges,the highly politicised disproportionate assets case against Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa is back to where it was — mired in controversies over alleged subversion of the trial.

The case relates to alleged acquisition of Rs 66.65 crore illegal wealth by Jayalalithaa during her first term between 1991 and 1996. Having witnessed a flip-flop depending on the parties in power in Tamil Nadu,the case is now seeing a similar flip-flop in Karnataka.

The story of the case is also one of DMK’s persistence to have the AIADMK leader convicted,and flip-flops in Karnataka depending on the ruling party’s relations with the DMK and AIADMK.

With Lok Sabha polls near,the case has again assumed significance as conviction is bound to come in the way of Jayalalithaa’s political aspirations.

The case,initiated in 1997 by the DMK government,was transferred to Karnataka by the Supreme Court in 2003 on a plea by DMK functionary K Anbazhagan,who alleged subversion of the trial by the AIADMK government that had returned to power in 2001.

While being heard in Tamil Nadu between 2000 and 2003,the case saw the resignation of three public prosecutors and a judge. Since being transferred to Karnataka,the trial has witnessed five judges and two public prosecutors.

Since the SC was watching,presiding officers and special public prosecutor B V Acharya,who was appointed by the chief justice of the Karnataka HC,conducted the case for several years with a lot of decorum and respect for law.

Things,however,began to derail about a year ago when the BJP government was in power in Karnataka and an effort was allegedly made to get Acharya to withdraw. Acharya,who quit as SPP in August 2012,accused the BJP of conspiring with the AIADMK to expedite his exit. “(Then CM Sadananda Gowda) said the (BJP) high command had told him that I should not continue in both the posts and they wanted me to resign as SPP. So they really wanted me to resign as SPP. But I was not willing to do that,” Acharya said in February 2012 after the government asked him to quit one of the posts. “There have been several attempts to dislodge me and I have resisted all along. I have now reached a stage where I cannot withstand the strain anymore,’’ Acharya,79,said at the time of his resignation in August last year.

Following the exit of Acharya and two presiding officers in the case — B M Mallikarjunaiah and Somayajji — the Karnataka High Court appointed the present presiding officer M S Balakrishna and new SPP Bhavani Singh in February this year.

Now,10 years after he first raised the bogey of subversion of the trial,Anbazhagan has done it again in the Karnataka special court,accusing court officials of discrepancies. Among the discrepancies he has raised is the failure to give the new SPP enough time to understand the case,failure of the SPP to argue his case first,failure to cross-examine witnesses,allowing an investigating officer in the case to be examined as a defence witness.

In a strange move,the new Congress government in Karnataka,which received a representation from the DMK leader on August 26,did not waste any time in ordering the withdrawal of the services of Bhavani Singh as SPP.

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