New Delhi, May 26 :
In a breather for Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J.Jayalalithaa, the Supreme Court Monday stayed, for 10 days, the criminal trial in disproportionate assets case against her involving Rs. 66.65 crores relating to the 1991-1996 period she was in office.
A bench of Justice B.S.Chauhan and Justice A.K.Sikri, while staying the proceedings of the trial court, however, said that civil proceedings relating to claim Lex Property Developer P. Ltd. on the assets allegedly shown to be ‘benami (proxy)’ possessions of Jayalalithaa will go on.
Pronouncing the order, the court said: “Let the civil proceedings go on, criminal proceedings will be stayed.” It also issued notice to Tamil Nadu government on Jayalalitha’s plea challenging May 20 order of Karnataka High Court, rejected her plea directing the Bangalore based special court, trying disproportionate assets case, to first decide the claim of Lex Property Developers over the assets being attributed to her as benami possessions.
Jayalalithaa’s plea seeking the determination of claim by Lex Property Developer is based on April 2 order of the Madras High Court which had directed the special court to first decide the petition by Lex Property Developer.
The Madras High Court order had said that only after the special court had decided on Lex Property Developer’s plea, would it proceed with the disproportionate assets case against Jayalalithaa.
Appearing for Jayalalithaa, senior counsel Ranjit Kumar told the court that despite the Madras High Court order, the special court continued with the hearing of the case.
“Had it (DA case) remained in Madras, he (special judge) was bound by this (April 2) judgment,” Justice Sikri as Ranjit Kumar told the court that “it was a strange situation” and happening even when the special judge says that he was bound by the direction of the Madras High Court.
The apex court inquired when was the next date of hearing, and was told that the hearing was going on day to day basis.
The trial in the case was shifted outside Chennai to Bangalore by the apex court in 2003 to ensure free and fair trial.
Along with Jayalalithaa, the other accused are V.K.Sasikala, V.N. Sudhakaran and J. Illavarasi.