The Supreme Court on Friday restrained the Karnataka government from appointing a new special public prosecutor in the disproportionate assets case against Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa being heard by a trial court in Bangalore.
A bench of Justice B.S. Chauhan and Justice S.A. Bobde directed the listing of the matter for Sep 4.
The court issued notice to the Karnataka government on the plea by Jayalalithaa and three others – Sasikala, Ilavarasi and V.N. Sudhakaran – challenging the removal of Bhavani Singh, the current special public prosecutor.
Addressing the court, senior counsel U.U. Lalit said that Bhavani Singh was taken off the case as he was in the third day of his final arguments which had seen the examination of 99 defence witnesses in a span of five months from February to July 2013.
The court was told that the petitioner has already responded to about 2,000 queries by the prosecution.
The petition moved by Jayalalithaa and three others said that the removal of Bhavani Singh as prosecutor by the state government would seriously prejudice their case as they have already brought out holes in the prosecution case, alleging disproportionate assets against Tamil Nadu chief minister.
Lalit told the court that the change at this stage would further delay by another four to five months the case, which is already dragging on for nearly a decade.
He noted that even the trial court judge was retiring on Sep 30.
Jayalalithaa has alleged that the abrupt change of Bhavani Singh has been done by the state’s ruling Congress at the behest of DMK, her political rival in Tamil Nadu.
As Lalit opposed the change at the fag end of the trial, Justice Chauhan told him the about court’s not-so-pleasant experience in the case involving challenge to the appointment of Gujarat Lokayukta Justice (retd) R.A. Mehta.
“After upholding the appointment of Justice Mehtas as Lokayukta, we dealt with review and later curative petition by the Gujarat government.”
“Having repeatedly reaffirmed our order on the appointment of Justice Mehta as Lokayukta, the latter subsequently declined to accept the office as he had faced enough.”
“This has made us wiser from that experience. But we are all experienced but by the time we get experienced, we are about to retire,” observed Justice Chauhan as Lalit said: “People don’t want to get into controversies.”
The Tamil Nadu chief minister is facing trial in the corruption case that relates to the period when she was chief minister in 1991 to 1996. The trial in the case was shifted outside Chennai by the apex court in 2003 to ensure a free and fair trial.