Jaya's rivals divided over appealing against acquittal

Jaya's rivals divided over appealing against acquittal

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa's political rivals are sharply divided over appealing against her acquittal in a disproportionate assets case that saw her return to power for a fifth time two days ago.

Long-standing rival and DMK chief M Karunanidhi said his party was "firm" on appealing against the judgement, while in neigbouring Karnataka, where the trial was conducted and Jayalalithaa's appeal against conviction allowed by the high court, the ruling Congress does not seem intent on challenging the judgement.

"With Supreme Court having said twice that DMK has the right to participate in this case, I firmly say that the party also will file an appeal in the disproportionate assets case against Jayalalithaa in the Supreme Court," 90-year-old Karunanidhi said in a statement in Chennai.

DMK has been pressing the Congress government in Karnataka to file an appeal against the May 11 verdict of the high court acquitting Jayalalithaa and three others in the DA case that paved the way for her return as chief minister.

Karunanidhi's statement came after he chaired a meeting of DMK's District Secretaries, who play a significant role in the party organisation, where the matter was discussed.
Karunanidhi said the Special Public Prosecutor in the case, B V Acharya, and Karnataka Advocate General Ravi Varma Kumar had recommended the Siddaramaiah government to file an appeal against her acquittal.

"We firmly believe that Karnataka government will accept their recommendations and file the appeal," he said. However, the ruling Congress in Karnataka, at least a section of it, is not keen on further pursuing the case against the AIADMK supremo.

Noting that Karnataka's role in the case was "administrative and not judicial", the legal cell of Congress has advised the state government against moving in appeal against the verdict.

The state was not an aggrieved party in respect of the high court judgement, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee Legal and Human Rights Department said. After meeting Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, department Chairman C M Dhananjaya said Karnataka had filed an affidavit in the transfer petition case (regarding shifting of trial to Bengaluru) in the Supreme Court stating that it "has no interest in the outcome of the trial".

"Therefore, filing of appeal by the state of Karnataka amounts to showing interest on the outcome of the case," he said, adding that this amounts to going back on the undertaking and also to contempt of the court. "I am of the opinion that it is not proper for the state government to file the appeal," he told PTI in Bengaluru.

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