Summarised here is the Jaya DA case appeal in the Karnataka High Court.
Where does the case stand now?
Former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa appealed her September 27 conviction in the Supreme Court, which gave her bail on October 17 and asked the Karnataka High Court to form a special bench to hear her appeal. On January 1, the HC formed a special bench of Justice C R Kumaraswamy. Hearing began despite a plea from DMK’s K Anbazhagan to remove Special Public Prosecutor Bhavani Singh. Anbazhagan moved the SC, which on April 27 struck down Singh’s appointment and held that Karnataka is the sole prosecuting agency in the pending appeals filed by Jaya.
What were Anbazhagan’s charges?
He argued that Singh had no authority to appear in Jaya’s appeal against her conviction because Singh was made SPP only for conduct of the trial by the Karnataka government. Singh’s appointment as SPP was not in accordance with the CrPC — Tamil Nadu’s Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) had lost the power to appoint a prosecutor when the case was transferred to Karnataka in 2003 — and his continuation would be unethical, the DMK leader argued. Singh has been accused of siding with the accused, and during the hearing of Anbazhagan’s petition in the SC, Jaya herself had defended Singh’s continuance as SPP.
So, who will present the prosecution in the High Court now?
The SC allowed Anbazhagan and the Karnataka government to place written arguments for the prosecution in the HC within two days, but did not allow a de novo hearing. Anbazhagan presented arguments on Monday. Karnataka has approached the original prosecutor, B V Acharya, to place written arguments. Acharya, who built up the case against Jaya, quit as SPP in 2012 after accusing Karnataka’s BJP government of forcing him to help her out.
When can the verdict be expected in the case?
The High Court has indicated that it would be in a position to pronounce judgment by May 12. But it could seek more time now that the SC has asking it to consider written arguments for the prosecution by Karnataka and Anbazhagan.
What happens in the case from here onward?
In case of an adverse verdict, Jayalalithaa will have a chance to appeal to the SC. AIADMK leaders say that even in the worst case, they expect a smaller punishment from the higher courts than the four-year jail term that Jayalalithaa has been given by the Bangalore special court. In the best case scenario, if she is acquitted, it could potentially change the politics of Tamil Nadu in the short term, and present the AIADMK with a huge boost. Law enforcers would also be watching for potential public volatility, even though a reaction similar to September 2014 — when at least 150 party cadres or sympathisers committed suicide after she was convicted — is not expected again.