Apex court suspends Jaya’s sentence, grants bail

J.VENKATESAN New Delhi | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on October 17, 2014


AIADMK cadres celebrate the release of their party chief, Jayalalithaa, on conditional bail by the Supreme Court by bursting fireworks, in Kancheepuram on Friday. Photo: D. Gopalakrishnan

Tells former TN CM not to drag appeal process; reprieve for co-offenders too

After 20 days of incarceration, J Jayalalithaa finally got bail on Friday with the Supreme Court ordering her release. The former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister had been convicted by a trial court in the ₹66.65-crore disproportionate assets case and was sentenced to four years simple imprisonment and a fine of ₹100 crore.

A three-judge Bench of Chief Justice HL Dattu and Justices Madan B Lokur and AK Sikri also granted bail to the three other accused, Sasikala, Sudhakaran and Ilavarasi, on their furnishing bonds with two solvent sureties to the satisfaction of the special judge in Bangalore.

The Bench stayed the operation of the sentence imposed by the trial court on the four accused.

After hearing senior counsels Fali Nariman (for Jayalalithaa) and KTS Tulsi (for the other accused), the Bench made it clear that the four convicts should not delay the trial and must ensure that the papers for their appeals are ready within two months.

The Bench posted the matter for further hearing on December 18, to give directions to the Karnataka High Court for disposition of the appeals within three months, if the appeal papers were ready in two months.

CJI Dattu told Nariman that going by the past conduct of Jayalalithaa and others in dragging the trial on for 18 years, there was no possibility of the appeal being concluded even in two decades if she was granted bail.

At this juncture Nariman assured the court that the appeal papers would be ready in two months and the court could ask the Karnataka High Court to dispose of the appeals within three months.

Nariman argued that when a person is convicted and sentenced for a fixed period and when he/she files a statutory appeal, then the suspension of sentence ought to be considered by the appellate court liberally.

He argued that when the appellate court admits the appeal challenging the conviction and sentence for the offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act, the superior court should normally suspend the sentence of imprisonment until disposal of the appeal.

And, keeping these legal principles in mind, he said, Special Public Prosecutor Bhavani Singh conceded for the grant of bail with conditions by suspending the sentence.

Nariman also argued that the court should take into consideration Jayalalithaa’s medical condition and grant her bail.

She might even be confined to her house, he said.

But the CJI made it clear to Nariman that the “court believes in Article 21 of the Constitution (life and liberty). Either we give bail or not give bail. We cannot pass such an order confining her to the four walls.”

Appearing in person, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, the original complainant in the case, argued that the court should consider the conduct of AIADMK partymen indulging in violence after her detention. “I am facing a threat if I go to Chennai,” he said.

The CJI, taking note of Swamy’s submissions, told Nariman that such violent incidents should not happen and there must be a clear direction to this effect to the partymen. Nariman assured the court that Jayalalithaa herself would issue a statement asking her partymen to remain quiet.

Published on October 17, 2014
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