Pressure cooker symbol : Supreme Court refuses to acknowledge TTV Dhinakaran outfit’s claim

The Supreme Court Tuesday refused to acknowledge the claim of the TTV Dhinakaran-led outfit over ‘pressure cooker’ as common election symbol.

The Supreme Court, however, directed the Election Commission (EC) to consider granting common free election symbol to the candidates of the Dhinakaran-led outfit for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls and assembly by-elections in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi also made it clear that its order asking the EC to consider granting common election symbol would not amount to granting recognition to his outfit as a political group and its candidates would be treated as Independents for all practical purposes.

The bench, which also comprised Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna, said that it was the duty and the rights of the Election Commission only to consider granting registration to Dhinakaran’s outfit as a political party and it will be done in due course by the poll panel.

The bench said that its directions to EC to consider granting common free symbol to the list of 59 candidates furnished before it by the outfit was passed to ensure level-playing field and free and fair elections.

As per the list given by the Dhinakaran group, they have named 40 candidates for parliamentary elections in Tamil Nadu (39) and Puducherry (one).

The Dhinakaran outfit has also given a list of 19 candidates for the Assembly by-elections on 19 seats in Tamil Nadu (18) and Puducherry (one).

During the hearing, the counsel appearing for the EC told the court that a common symbol of pressure cooker cannot be given to the Dhinakaran-led group since they were not a registered political party.

The EC had on Monday told the apex court that it can allot a common symbol of “pressure cooker” to an individual but not to an unregistered group.

Dhinakaran had told the top court that the EC’s stand would force the candidates of his Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK) to contest the upcoming Lok Sabha elections on different symbols.

The bench had asked senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Dhinakaran, as to when is the last date of filing nominations for Lok Sabha polls.

Sibal had replied that the last date of filing of nomination was Tuesday and if the party was not allotted the symbol, its candidates would have to contest on different symbols.

He had said that candidates of rival parties will win by default if a common symbol of ‘pressure cooker’ was not given to them.

The bench then asked the EC official to apprise it as to why a common symbol was not given to the AMMK.

The EC official had apprised the court that as per the rules a common symbol cannot be given to the AMMK, which was not a registered political party.

He had said the election process has already started and it would be difficult to allot a common symbol.

The bench, which asked for a detailed reply, was told by the official that the poll panel was not asked to file a response.

The bench, which was visibly unsatisfied with the reply of poll panel official, perused its March 15 order and said that court has issued notice to the EC.

On March 15, the apex court had agreed to hear a plea of Dhinakaran and V K Sasikala challenging a Delhi High Court order granting the ‘two leaves’ symbol to the AIADMK faction led by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E K Palaniswami.

The court had issued notice to the EC on the limited plea of Dhinakaran that they be allowed to use ‘pressure cooker’ as a common symbol.

The Dhinakaran group had claimed that EC was not giving them a common symbol despite a direction from the apex court to allot “pressure cooker’ as a common symbol to the party.

On February 28, the high court had dismissed the pleas of Dhinakaran and Sasikala challenging the EC order granting the ‘AIADMK’ name and the ‘two leaves’ symbol to the faction led by the Tamil Nadu chief minister, saying the figures showed the Palaniswami-led group “enjoyed a clear majority”.

It had upheld the EC decision of November 23, 2017, saying none of the grounds of challenge raised by the Dhinakaran-Sasikala group were made out and there was “no infirmity” in the poll panel’s order allotting the party name and symbol to the group led by Palaniswami and his deputy O Panneerselvam.

After the high court order was pronounced, Dhinakaran and Sasikala had urged the court to direct the EC not to allot the ‘pressure cooker’ symbol to anyone during the next 15 days so that they have time to move the apex court and seek an appropriate relief from there.

The EC, thereafter, had agreed not to allot the ‘pressure cooker’ symbol to anyone for next 15 days in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.

Dhinakaran had floated Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam after he and Sasikala were expelled from the Palaniswami-led AIADMK.

PIL in SC to stall swearing-in of Sasikala as TN CM

PIL in SC to stall swearing-in of Sasikala as TN CM
PIL in SC to stall swearing-in of Sasikala as TN CM

A PIL was today moved in the Supreme Court seeking to restrain AIADMK leader V K Sasikala from being sworn in as Tamil Nadu chief minister tomorrow on the ground that the apex court was likely to pronounce within a week the judgement in a corruption case in which she and late CM J Jayalalithaa were accused.

The PIL was filed by Chennai resident Senthil Kumar, General Secretary of NGO Satta Panchayat Iyakkam, hours after the apex court indicated it could deliver its judgement on the appeals challenging the acquittal of Jayalalithaa and Sasikala in a 19-year-old disproportionate assets case.

The petition is likely to be heard tomorrow morning.

Kumar, who mentioned in the plea that he will argue the matter in person, sought a stay on Sasikala’s swearing-in tomorrow, contending that if she was convicted and forced to resign, there was a possibility of riots erupting all over Tamil Nadu.

He said law and order may worsen in such an eventuality as the state was already facing a “desperate situation” due to cyclone, demonetization and death of Jayalalithaa.

The petitioner claimed in case the appeal against her acquittal results in conviction, the AIADMK workers may once again protest and disturb the normal life of Tamil Nadu.

The petitioner said he filed the plea in the interest of people of Tamil Nadu and to maintain the peace in the state.

After Jayalalithaa passed away on December 5, 2016, Sasikala, who was her shadow for nearly three decades, was elected General Secretary of AIADMK on December 29 and elected leader of its legislature party yesterday.

( Source – PTI )

Jayalalithaa moves High Court against conviction & seeks bail

Seeking immediate bail, jailed AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa today moved the Karnataka High Court challenging her conviction in the disproportionate assets case which cost her the chief minister’s job and disqualified her from being an MLA.

Noted Supreme Court lawyer Ram Jethmalani is believed to have been drafted by Jayalalitha’s legal team for arguing the bail and stay application that is likely to come up for hearing by a vacation bench tomorrow.
In her petition, she has maintained that the charges of amassing wealth against her were false and that she had acquired property through legal means.

Jayalalitha has contended that the trial court has overlooked several judgements and has not considered the binding nature of various income tax orders and decisions of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal, which had accepted the income and the level of expenditure pleaded by her.
The former chief minister said she had earned money by acting in films and bought property through legal means, Ashokan, Jayalalithaa’s lawyer told PTI here.

C Duraipandian, member of the AIADMK legal, team said they have filed an appeal for suspension of the conviction and the sentence and have also refused to pay the Rs.100 crore fine imposed on her.
In a verdict on Saturday at the end of an 18-year old legal battle, Special Judge John Michael D’Cunha had convicted her, sentenced her to four years imprisonment and slapped a staggering fine of Rs 100 crore in the Rs 66.65 crore corruption case.

Unless the conviction is suspended immediately and later overturned by superior courts, Jayalalitha faces a bleak political future as she cannot contest elections for 10 years–four years in jail and six years after that.

Jayalalithaa also denied allegations that she has any share in Jaya Publications and was in no way connected with it.

Her aide Sasikala, her relatives V N Sudhakaran, disowned son of the former Chief Minister, and Ilavarasi have also filed applications in the High Court seeking bail and challenging their conviction.

The high court is on Dasara holidays from September 29 to October 6 and their petitions are also expected to be taken up tomorrow during a scheduled hearing by a vacation bench.

Sasikala, Sudhakaran and Ilavarasi were also convicted and sentenced to four years of jail term and fined Rs 10 crore each in the landmark judgement that saw the first conviction of a sitting Chief Minister in a corruption case.

Jayalalithaa and the other accused were held guilty of amassing wealth disproportionate to their known sources of income under the Prevention of Corruption Act and criminal conspiracy under the Indian Penal Code.

She had been accused of committing the offence when she was the chief minister for the first time during 1991-96.

With the special court giving more than a three-year jail term, Jayalalithaa can hope to get relief only from the High Court. If a stay on conviction is granted, it would nullify the disqualification of Jayalalithaa as MLA.

Jayalalithaa and the other three are at present lodged in the Parappana Agrahara central jail here.

SC stays Karnataka order to Jayalalithaa case prosecutor

The Supreme Court Friday stayed the Karnataka government communication to special public prosecutor Bhavani Singh asking him not to appear before the Bangalore special court hearing a corruption case against Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa.

A bench of Justice B.S.Chauhan and Justice S.A.Bobde issued notice to Karnataka government and other respondents, returnable in 10 days. Apparently unhappy with the way Karnataka government had conducted itself in the case, Justice Chauhan observed that this matter should not have come before the apex court.

Making a mentioning of the petition by Jayalalithaa, senior counsel Mukul Rohtagi told the court that Karnataka government, after withdrawing its earlier notification removing Bhawani Singh as prosecutor, sent him a communication asking him not to appear before the special court hearing the case.

The state government communication told Bhawani Singh that as it had to hold consultation with state chief justice on the appointment of a prosecutor thus he should not resume work.

Karnataka had Sep 6 told the apex court that it would be withdrawing its Aug 26 notification removing Bhavani Singh and then place entire record leading to the removal of Bhavani Singh before the chief justice of the state high court for his opinion.

In case, the chief justice gives his nod to the government decision to remove Bhavani Singh, then state government would place before him a list of senior lawyers so that one of whom could be picked up to be the special public prosecutor.

Jayalalithaa, Sasikala, Ilavarasi and V.N. Sudhakaran had moved the apex court challenging the removal of Bhavani Singh. They had contended Bhavani Singh was taken off the case when 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 had already responded to about 2000 queries by the prosecution. Jayalalithaa, in her petition, alleged that the abrupt change of the prosecutor was done by Karnataka’s ruling Congress at the behest of her political rival DMK in Tamil Nadu.

She is facing trial in a case of owning disproportionate assets amounting to Rs.66 crore that relates to the period when she was chief minister from 1991 to 1996. The trial in the case was shifted outside Chennai by the apex court in 2003 to ensure free and fair trial.

(Source: IANS)

Karnataka stopped from naming new prosecutor in Jayalalithaa case

jayalalitaThe 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.

(Source: IANS)

SC reserves order on providing docs to Sasikala

The Supreme Court on Wednesday reserved its verdict on Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa’s aide Sasikala Natrajan’s plea, seeking some prosecution documents relating to the disproportionate assets case against them, pending trial in a Bangalore court.

A bench of justice P Sathasivam and justice Ranjan Gogoi reserved the judgement after hearing arguments by Sasikala’s counsel on her appeal against the Karnataka High Court ruling, which had concurred with the trial court order that she was not entitled to the documents which were not part of the charge sheet.

Earlier on June 25, the apex court had refused to stay the trial but had allowed her to place on record the relevant materials relating to her claim that she was not provided with certain documents relating to the questions put to her in the ongoing day-to-day trial.

Jaya and others are accused of amassing disproportionate wealth during her tenure as chief minister in 1991-96.

On November 4 last year, the apex court had dismissed Jayalalithaa’s plea for exemption from personal appearance before the trial court in Bangalore.

The disproportionate assets case allegedly involves accumulation of assets worth over Rs 66 crore by Jayalalithaa between 1991 and 1996.

The DA case proceedings were shifted out of Tamil Nadu by the apex court in November 2003 following a petition filed by DMK leader K Anbazhagan when AIADMK was in power.

Jaya had said the jewellery, silverware and footwear were “over valued” by Tamil Nadu’s Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption and that she did not own all the sarees confiscated in the case.

SC refuses to stay trial against Jaya’s ex-aide Sasikala

The Supreme Court today declined to stay the trial in a disproportionate assets case involving Tamil Nadu chief minister Mr J Jayalalithaa’s estranged aide Ms Sasikala Natrajan, both of whom are facing the proceedings in a Bangalore court.

A vacation Bench of Mr Justice HL Gokhale and Ms Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai, however, allowed Ms Sasikala to place on record relevant materials relating to her claim that she has not been provided with certain documents relating to the questions being put to her in the ongoing day-to-day trial.

“We can’t give any interim relief and the trial will continue,” the Bench observed, but granted two weeks’ time to Ms Sasikala to place on record the necessary material in support of her contention.

Ms Jayalalithaa and others are accused of amassing disproportionate wealth during her tenure as chief minister during 1991-96. Ms Sasikala approached the Supreme Court after the trial court and Karnataka High Court refused to give certain documents pertaining to the case to Ms Sasikala.

Senior counsel Mr Sekhar Naphade told the Bench that she had already answered 599 questions by the prosecution and 1,000 more were expected.

He, however, maintained that in order to answer these 1,000-odd questions, the defence needed certain documents which were part of the case, but had not been released to the accused. As an interim measure, Ms Sasikala wanted the trial to be stayed and she be furnished the said documents.