A division bench of the Karnataka high court on Wednesday dismissed a writ appeal filed by DMK secretary Anbazhagan challenging the continuation of a controversial Special Public Prosecutor Bhavani Singh in the disproportionate assets case against former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa. The division bench dismissed the DMK leader’s plea on the grounds that the court’s interference order at this stage may prevent the high court from meeting a three month deadline for the completion of the case set by the Supreme Court in December last year.
The division bench comprising of Justice N Kumar and Justice B Veerappa added that the Karnataka government or the DMK could take up the matter of the appointment of the SPP to the Supreme Court. The court however observed that since Bhavani Singh was appointed SPP by the Karnataka government his role entitles him to inquire, investigate, attend trial, including filing appeal at High Court and Supreme Court as in the instant case. DMK leader K Anbazhagan had approached the division bench of the high court seeking an order to set aside the services of Bhavani Singh as the SPP before a special bench that is hearing Jayalalithaa’s appeal against a prison sentence in the assets case.
Anbazhagan in his appeal argued that Singh should not be allowed to continue as the SPP since the power of the Tamil Nadu Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) to appoint their own counsel had been taken away when the case was transferred to Karnataka in 2003.
The continuation of Bhavani Singh who has been accused of siding with the accused in the trial would be unethical and would cause a conflict of interest, the DMK leader had stated. Many courts have criticized the conduct of Bhavani Singh as the SPP in the Jayalalitha disproportionate assets case and Singh should not continue to argue the prosecution’s case since he could seriously undermine the prosecution in the appeals filed by Jayalalithaa, the DMK leader said.
A special trial court in Karnataka, where the disproportionate assets case was transferred in 2003 by the Supreme Court after DMK leader K Anbazhagan alleged interference by the Tamil Nadu government, had on September 27, 2014 sentenced Jayalalitha to a four year prison term and imposed a fine of Rs 100 crore. The Supreme Court had granted bail to Jayalalithaa on October 17.
A Special Bench of the Karnataka high court constituted to hear the appeals filed against her conviction by AIADMK leader J Jayalalithaa and three of her associates has a three month Supreme Court imposed deadline to complete hearing the appeals in the case.