The Supreme Court Thursday put off for a day the hearing on Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa’s petition, challenging a Bangalore court’s order that directed her to appear before it again Nov 8 in disproportionate assets case, after a judge withdrew from the bench.
The supreme court bench of Justice Dalveer Bhandari, Justice T.S. Thakur and Justice Dipak Misra adjourned the hearing and directed its listing Friday after senior counsel Mukul Rohtagi objected to the presence of Justice Thakur on the bench.
Justice Thakur withdrew soon after the point was raised by Rohtagi.
Counsel pointed out to the bench that Justice Thakur’s father had appeared in a court as lawyer for Jayalalithaa. Justice Thakur immediately recused himself.
The Tamil Nadu chief minister in her petition contended that she was asked by the apex court to appear before the trial court hearing the disproportionate assets against her Oct 20-21, which she has complied with.
Now she had been asked to reappear before the trial court Nov 8, she said.
Jayalalithaa said she was supposed to appear before the trial court only once and now could not be summoned to appear again.
She referred to the apex court judges’ order, which said that “we request the presiding officer of the special court to take up this matter on Oct 20 and conclude the statement of the petitioner preferably the same day. In case, for any reason, the statement is not concluded the same day, it may be taken up the next day”.
The petition said that the Bangalore court trying the case against her formulated 1,339 questions and she answered 567 of them. Given the large number of questions, the trial court proposed to continue her examination for many more days and “it has now postponed further examination to Nov 8”.
The petition said Jayalalithaa was occupying a constitutional office, which required her to be on duty at short notice at all conceivable times.
She said that her two-day appearance before the special court Oct 20-21 caused a lot of inconvenience to people in Bangalore as it resulted in disruption of traffic and imposition of prohibitory orders.
She is facing trial in a disproportionate assets case that relates to the period when she was Tamil Nadu chief minister in 1991 to 1996.
The trial in the case was shifted outside Chennai by the apex court in 2003 to ensure free and fair trial.