Judge rejected Jayalalitha's contention of political vendetta

Judge rejected Jayalalitha's contention of political vendetta

The special court, which passed a guilty verdict against former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalitha, has torn apart her defence that the Disproportionate Assets (DA) case filed against her was based on political vendetta.

It was contended by Jayalalitha and her lawyers, time and again, that the complainant Dr Subramanian Swamy was in fact politically motivated to file the case in 1996.

On September 27 this year, Judge Michael D’Cunha, dedicating a chapter in his 1,036-page verdict on political vendetta, has said: “The very fact the private complaint lodged by Prosecution Witness 232 (Swamy) has paved the way for registration of case culminating in the Final Report and the prosecution of the accused reinforces to the plea that the prosecution launched against the accused is not actuated by malice or political vendetta as contended by the learned counsel for the accused. This argument therefore is rejected.”

D’Cunha in his verdict has quoted a Supreme Court ruling in 2003 which states: “In a democracy, the political opponents play an important role both inside and outside the House. They are the watchdogs of the government in power. It will be their effective weapon to counter the misdeeds and mischiefs of the government in power.”

“They are the mouthpiece to ventilate the grievances of the public at large, if genuinely and unbiasedly projected. In that view of the matter, being a political opponent, the petitioner is vitally interested party in the running of the government or in the administration of criminal justice in the state.”

No leniency

On the same date, having heard that Jayalalitha and the other accused were guilty, the counsel for the former chief minister of Tamil Nadu had appealed to D’Cunha for leniency in sentencing. 

In their case, Jayalalitha’s lawyers had again contended that the case was filed against her with political malice. 

They further went on to argue that: “She was aged 48 years then, when the case was filed, and 18 years have elapsed and now she is 66 years old. In these 18 years, she has suffered incalculable mental agony, anguish and trauma which cannot be compensated in her lifetime. Today, as a result of this mental agony, she has diabetes, hypertension, respiratory problems and many other ailments.”

Ironically, all the four accused, including Jayalalitha, Sasikala Natarajan, V N Sudhakaran and J Elavarasi, claimed that they have had health ailments due to the 18 years of trial.

D’Cunha, however, denied any leniency by quoting various precedent judgements, which suggested against any leniency due to the ‘higher position’ Jayalalitha held in the hierarchy of administration, and said: “... in the background of these factual and legal position and having regard to the magnitude of the disproportionate assets acquired by the accused and the gravity of the offence, there is no scope for any leniency or sympathy in this case.”

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