New Delhi: Supreme Court on Wednesday delivered a split verdict on a DMK leader’s plea seeking removal of a public prosecutor from representing state in the Karnataka High Court which recently reserved verdict on an appeal of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa in a disproportionate assets case.
As a consequence of the split verdict, the matter was referred to Chief Justice HL Dattu to constitute a larger bench for an authoritative pronouncement.
Justice Madan B Lokur, heading the bench, allowed the plea of DMK leader K Anbazhagan seeking removal of Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) Bhawani Singh and ordered a fresh hearing on the AIADMK chief’s plea against her conviction saying the proceedings have been “vitiated”.
However, Justice R Banumathi differed with Justice Lokur and held that the SPP was duly authorised to represent the state before the Karnataka High Court as well.
During the pronouncement, Justice Lokur said the delay in deciding the case was “extremely unfortunate” and the “criminal justice delivery system is a loser”. He also observed that “something drastic needs to done”.
The court on April 7 had reserved its verdict on the plea of Anbazhagan for Singh’s removal, raising questions about his impartiality as a prosecutor in the case.
The DMK leader had alleged that the SPP was “hand in glove with an accused (Jayalalithaa)”. The apex court order had then made it clear that transferee state Karnataka, and not transferor state Tamil Nadu, will appoint the public prosecutor in the case, the plea had said.
However, Jayalalithaa had come out strongly in support of the SPP saying, “Bhawani Singh is not an intruder. He has a notification in his favour and in such matters, the de-facto doctrine also comes in his favour.”
On October 17, the apex court had granted conditional bail to Jayalalithaa who was sent to jail by a trial court on September 27.
Earlier, the court had issued notice to the AIADMK chief and other convicts Jayalalithaa’s aide Sasikala, two of her relatives and the Karnataka government, on Anbazhagan’s plea.
The apex court had in last December extended by four months the bail of Jayalalithaa and asked the Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court to constitute a special bench to decide on her plea expeditiously within three months.
The 66-year-old politician, who had moved the Supreme Court for bail on October 9 after being denied by the Karnataka High Court, had submitted that she had been sentenced to only four years jail and was suffering from various ailments, as grounds for immediate relief.
The Special Court had held Jayalalithaa and three others guilty of corruption. The court had also slapped a fine of Rs 100 crore on the AIADMK chief and Rs 10 crore fine on each of the three other convicts.