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 The Supreme Court Tuesday temporarily halted the ongoing trial of former Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalithaa in a 14-year-old corruption case of amassing wealth far exceeding her legal income.

A bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan halted the trial while deciding to hear on March 19 a lawsuit of the AIADMK chief, challenging the March 10 ruling of the Karnataka High Court that endorsed the June 5, 1997, order of the trial court taking cognisance of a complaint against her.

Following the high court’s order, a Banaglore court, where her trial was shifted in November 2003 by the apex court on a lawsuit by DMK general secretary K. Anbazhagany, was to begin day-to-day cross examination of prosecution witnesses against her from March 18.

But the bench, which also included Justice Deepak Verma and Justice B.S. Chauhan, accepting Jayalalithaa’s counsel Mukul Rohatgi’s plea that the trial court should defer its proceedings till the hearing by the apex court, halted the trial temporarily.

The bench asked the prosecution to ensure that the examination of witnesses does not begin March 18 and inform the trial court that the apex court has listed the AIADMK supremo’s appeal for hearing on March 19.

The apex court earlier had transferred the cases out of Tamil Nadu on Anbazhagan’s contention that a fair trial in the two cases against her was not possible when she was heading the state government.

In her lawsuit, Jayalalithaa contended that the March 10 order of the high court has glossed over the fact that the charge sheet against her was not able to make out any case against her.

Her lawsuit said the special judge, Chennai, had taken cognizance of the June 1997 charge sheet against her “mechanically without applying his mind”.

Jayalalithaa is accused of amassing Rs.66.65 crore between 1991 and 1996 when she was the chief minister

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