Bengaluru: The Special Public Prosecutor and the counsel for DMK leader K. Anbazhagan on Friday had a heated exchange of words during the hearing of an appeal filed by AIADMK general secretary Jayalalithaa before the Karnataka High Court special bench challenging her conviction in a disproportionate assets case.
The exchange broke out when Mr. Anbazhagan’s counsel A. Saravanan questioned the credentials of Bhavani Singh to appear as SPP to make submissions in the case.
At one stage, when Justice C.R. Kumaraswamy asked why he was taking on the SPP, Mr. Saravanan mentioned that Mr. Singh was “fined” by the trial court for “unnecessarily pleading adjournments on grounds of ill health”. But he apologised later after Mr. Singh pointed out that only cost was imposed and not a fine.
The bench, set up on the Supreme Court’s orders, is hearing appeals by Jayalalithaa, as also of three others, challenging their September 27, 2014 conviction by a special court for alleged accumulation of assets disproportionate to their known sources of income during 1991-96, her first stint as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.
Earlier, making his arguments, L. Nageswar Rao, counsel for Jayalalithaa, submitted a chart which contained her income and expenditure details, complying with the court’s directive on Thursday.
After going through it, the Judge asked Mr. Singh to explain the difference of amount mentioned in the reports filed by Tamil Nadu’s Directorate of Vigilance and Anti Corruption and Jayalalithaa.
“As per the charts handed over to me by A1 (Jayalalithaa), it mentions an excess of Rs. 95 lakhs, whereas the DVAC report mentions an excess of Rs. 66 crore. How did you (SPP) arrive at this (Rs. 66.55 crores) amount?” Justice Kumaraswamy said.
In reply, Mr. Singh said DVAC arrived at Rs. 66.55 crores during investigations. Intervening, Justice Kumaraswamy asked whether DVAC was present in the court.
When Sambandam, counsel for DVAC, rose, Saravanan brought to the notice of the bench that he was not the investigating officer but it was another official N. Nallamma Naidu.
Countering the objections raised by Mr. Saravanan, Mr. Singh, who visibly looked annoyed, said “you needn’t say this. I will make my submission on this in my final arguments.”
At this, Mr. Saravanan questioned Mr. Singh appearing before the bench “without proper authority.
“In what capacity and authority you (Mr. Singh) are appearing before this honourable bench?” he said.
This did not go down well with Mr. Singh and heated arguments ensued between the two. However, Justice Kumaraswamy intervened saying, “Why are you (Mr. Saravanan) levelling allegations after allegations against Singh. If you really doubt his credentials, you should then file a petition in the High Court against him.”
On January 19, 2015, the High Court had rejected a plea by Mr. Anbazhagan seeking removal of Mr. Singh but allowed him and the Karnataka government to approach the Supreme Court for clarification on the issue of procedure of the appointment of the SPP for the appeal.
At the end of Friday’s proceedings, Justice Kumaraswamy posted the matter to January 27 for next hearing.