SC asks Karnataka not to appoint SPP in Jaya case
In a relief to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, the Supreme Court today directed the Karnataka government not to appoint a special prosecutor in place of G Bhavani Singh who has recently been withdrawn from the trial in a disproportionate assets case against her.
The bench, which also decided to issue notice to the SPP who was removed on August 26, asked the state government to respond to the AIDMK chief's plea that the decision has put her protracted trial in limbo and it has been taken at the behest of her political foe DMK.
"No fresh notification for appointment of special public prosecutor in the case shall be made," a bench of justices B S Chauhan and S A Bobde said and fixed the matter for hearing on September 4.
"The SPP (Singh) is not a party before us. Suppose, he says that he does not want to remain as the SPP then what will happen," it said while issuing notice to the former SPP also.
"We have seen such things in the past. This has happened in Gujarat Lok Ayukta's case," the bench said.
"For the last 17 years, I have faced the trial. I have answered more than 2,000 questions, put to me, during trial. The examination of defence witnesses is over. My submissions are over. The prosecutor is removed in the midst of his arguments," senior advocate U U Lalit, appearing for the Chief Minister, said.
Citing previous order of the apex court, he said that it was made clear that the SPP in the case would be appointed by the state government in "consultation with the Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court."
Referring to sequence of events, the lawyer said that it could be a possibility that the Chief Justice has not been consulted by the state government at all in removing the SPP.
The AIADMK chief is accused of amassing Rs 66.65 crore between 1991 and 1996 when she was the Chief Minister and the case was transferred from Chennai to Bangalore in 2003 by the apex court during her earlier tenure to ensure a fair and free trial.
Besides seeking a stay on fresh appointment of the SPP, the lawyer of the Chief Minister said the government records, pertaining to removal of SPP, be also summoned.
Besides Jayalalithaa, other accused Sasikala, Ilavarasi and V N Sudhakaran have moved the apex court against the decision to remove Singh as SPP in the case.
The Karnataka government had, on August 26, issued a notification withdrawing the appointment of Singh as SPP with immediate effect.
It was alleged in the petition that the state government withdrew the appointment of the SPP on a day when he was about to conclude his arguments, after conducting the trial by cross-examining 99 defence witnesses spread over five months between February 28 and July 29, 2013.
The decision to remove the SPP has been taken "only at the instance of the rival political party [DMK], which wields enormous influence on the ruling party in Karnataka which also is the ruling party of the Central Government.
"The rival party has been interfering with the prosecution right from the beginning. When they were unsuccessful in scuttling the trial in the courts they have resorted to this devious method of getting the prosecutor removed.
The notification removing the SPP is completely arbitrary and politically motivated and shows that it has been passed only to satisfy the whims and fancies of the DMK whose support is extremely necessary for the continuance of the Central Government," the petition said.