Monday, May 11, 2015

Jaya's verdict: some important questions

Jayalalithaa and three other accused were acquitted of all charges in the disproportionate assets case. Here are some answers on the next possible scenarios post the verdict:

1. Can she become the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu again? What is the procedure?
She can be elected leader of the AIADMK legislature party now and can be sworn in CM. she will have to enter the Assembly through an election within the next six months. As of now, the AIADMK can pass a party resolution agreeing to reinstate her as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. Then, the current CM O.Paneerselvam has to render his resignation to the Governor of the State. After the acceptance of his resignation, Ms. Jayalalithaa can officially take the oath of office.
2. What will happen to the assets that were attached initially when she was convicted? The office, the land, the bus?
The attachment of the assets will be lifted. During the period of the case, the assets were under the court’s custody. They will be returned to the ‘original owner’ as mentioned in the documents. The court might have to wait for 60 days to check if anyone has contested against the judgment.
3. What about the Rs. 100 crores fine that was imposed on her?
With this verdict, her sentence and her fine amount has been set aside. She does not need to pay the fine amount now.
4. How come one court finds the accused guilty while the other court acquits? Why two interpretations of the same evidence?
It is possible that the High Court took note of legal points in the defence - for example, the income tax department's acceptance of IT returns prevents further enquiry into the ownership of assets. Once this question is answered in favour of the accused, the evidence does not matter.
5. It took 18yrs to give the initial verdict, while only 6 months for the appeal in high court. If for argument's sake, let's say the DMK appeals in the apex court. Will we get a verdict (which might overturn this and send her again to jail) in a short period of time, say 6 months?
Yes, it is possible that the appeal can be taken up within months, if one is filed by the Karnataka government.
6. Can anyone appeal against this judgment?
As the prosecuting State, Karnataka has the right to appeal in the Supreme Court against the verdict. Senior BJP leader Subramanian Swamy can also file an appeal against the verdict as he is the prime appellant. DMK can’t appeal against this judgment. Karnataka Government is in no mood to appeal the case.
7. Assuming an appeal is filed against this judgement in Supreme Court, how long it will normally take to come to the court?
That depends on the Supreme Court alone. In Jayalalithaa's case, they fixed a deadline for the High Court to finish the hearing.
8. What will the position of the Special Public Prosecutor be now?
B.V. Acharya was re-appointed as the SPP of the case after the Supreme Court gave an order to remove G. Bhavani Singh. Now, Mr. Acharya will be expected to give an opinion to the Karnataka government on whether the verdict is appealable. Then, the Karnataka government can file an appeal, if necessary.

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