The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to examine a petition to remove the special public prosecutor, appointed to lead the case against former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa and others in a corruption case. A bench led by Justice Madan B Lokur issued notices on a plea by DMK leader K Anbazhagan, who is a complainant in the case against the AIADMK chief for allegedly amassing properties disproportionate to her known sources of income.
Jayalalithaa had been convicted and sentenced to four years in jail by the trial court. Her appeal is now being heard by Karnataka High Court.
Anbazhagan had moved the apex court pleading that Bhawani Singh could not be allowed to represent the prosecution in the appeal before the High Court and that his continuance vitiated the proceedings. He contended that Singh was appointed as a prosecutor by the Karnataka government after the trial was shifted to Bangalore from Tamil Nadu, but on conclusion of the trial, the state government did not approve of his continuance. In fact, it was the Tamil Nadu government that now favoured Singh to lead the prosecution in the appeal and that it was completely unauthorised under the law, the petition stated.
The bench admitted Anbazhagan’s plea for hearing, but it refused to stay the appeal proceedings before the High Court. “The High Court knows that the matter is pending before us. We will hear it on an urgent basis and decide the question of law being raised by you,” said the bench, fixing the matter for final hearing on March 18.
On a separate petition by another complainant, the bench also issued notices to Jayalalithaa, three other co-convicts and the Karnataka government. This petition has sought to stay proceedings on the ground that the complainant was not being allowed to argue in the appeal proceedings although he was allowed to do so before the trial court.
Jayalalithaa was granted bail by the SC, which set a time frame for the High Court to decide on the appeal by April 13. The bench, however, clarified Monday that if required, it could extend this deadline.