Jayalalithaa’s acquittal in graft case unsustainable, Karnataka tells SC

New Delhi, June 1 (IANS) Karnataka on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that the state high court judgment acquitting Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and three others in disproportionate assets case was unsustainable both on facts and law and defeated the very purpose of cleansing the public life.

The top court is hearing appeal by the Karnataka government challenging the acquittal of Jayalalithaa, her aide N. Sasikala Natrajan and her two relatives V.N. Sudhakaran and Elavarasi by the Karnataka High Court. They were accused of allegedly amassing disproportionate asserts to the tune of Rs. 66.65.crores during her first term as Chief Minister from 1991 to 1996.

Describing the defence offered by Jayalalithaa and three others as “cock and bull story”, the vacation bench of Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose and Justice Amitava Roy was told that accepting the arguments by the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister would amount to throwing the anti-corruption law – Prevention of Corruption Act – into the dustbin.

As arguments by Karnataka government were concluded, the court said that one of the three options it may exercise would be either to uphold the high court verdict acquitting Jayalalithaa and three others, reverse the high court verdict and restore the conviction or still after re-appreciating the entire evidence, direct fresh trial or remit for the matter to the high court for fresh consideration.

The bench outlined the three options available to it after senior counsel Dushyant Dave appearing for Karnataka described the judgment acquitting Jayalalithaa and others as “perverse beyond imagination”, devoid of reasoning and based on “conjectures and surmises”.

He told the court it had the three options available to it but could not re-appreciate the evidence to find faults with the trial court judgment of conviction.

Telling the court that the burden of proof of the legitimacy of the sources of the income was on the accused, Dave said merely that the income tax department had accepted their returns does not attach legitimacy to their incomes and assets. He said that the income tax department was only concerned with realising the tax and production of returns was not the end of the matter.

He said that the burden is on the accused to show the lawful source of the money and on the basis of which property have been purchased.

Senior counsel and Special Public Prosecutor in the case B.V. Acharya told the court that the disproportionate assets would be surface if the income, expenditure, and assets acquired by Jayalalithaa and the others were taken together and not individually separating one from the other.

The high court, while acquitting Jayalalithaa and the others, had revered September 27, 2014, Bangaluru trial court order convicting her.

After a trial that lasted for 18 years, the trial court in Bangaluru had convicted Jayalalithaa and sentenced her to four-year jail term and a fine of Rs.100 crore.

–IANS

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