The media goof-up was for the entire world to be seen. As anticipations and apprehensions hung thick in the air, wrongly-deduced statements from the prosecution's "No problem with conditional bail" seemed to overpower the logical explanation of the trial.
Amid this, all eyes were set on two people-justice A V Chandrashekhar and Ram Jethmalani (fighting Jaya's case).
Arguments and counter arguments were heard with numbed silence, till the verdict came out when the court-room applauded and burst into laughter.
Here's how the theatrics went:
Ram Jethmalani's defense
Jethmalani appealed for the suspension of the 4-year term for Jayalalitha, pending appeal under Section 389 of the Criminal Procedure Code. Under this section, as Deccan Chronicle quotes, "pending any appeal by a convicted person, the Appellate Court may order that the execution of the sentence or order appealed against be suspended. Also, if the person is in confinement, that he or she be released on bail, or on own bond."
It was a "regular" practice, said Jethmalani to Justice A V Chandrashekhara. The former further justified his statements with the example of Lalu Prasad who was denied bail by the HC, but was granted one by the SC.
Jethmalani's also argued that Jayalalitha's conduct did not show that she would abscond.
When, that did not work, he resorted to a plan B and stated that assets prior to the period between 1991 and 1996 (when Jayalalithaa was Chief Minister) could not be taken into account.
He said,"Matters in favour of the accused must be treated with equal importance, he said. The accused must stand a chance unless the prosecution can prove that it is absolutely false."
Counsel Amit Desai's role was minimalistic, though he fought well for Jaya's close aide Sasikala and her relatives V N Sudhakaran. He said,"no witness talked of assets acquired by the three and suspicion cannot take the place of evidence. They had no involvement in bulk of the assets."
Both the defence lawyers asserted that "the special judge had committed several perversions in the trial and had proceeded in the case with the assumption that the prosecution had proved its case."
Justice Chandrashekhar's counter-argument
He dismissed the bail pleas without any second thoughts citing all the judgements pertaining corruption, passed in the Supreme Court. He said,"Supreme Court had in recent times taken a tough stand against corruption cases and had called "corruption a violation of human rights".
The court stated in clear words,"In view of the clear observation of the apex court that corruption is a violation of human rights, this is not a fit case for suspension and bail. Bail plea is liable to be dismissed.There were no grounds to suspend her sentence. Though it is true that the sentence can be suspended in cases where it is seven years or less, it is not an absolute right".
The court further added that Jayalalitha's case was not without evidence, although there was scope of argument on the evidences. Citing a Supreme Court observation, it said that conviction after a trial means a person is assumed to be corrupt till discharged by the next court.
The bench said,"A conviction by a sessions court is a disqualification against suspension of sentence since the court has applied its mind in the course of the trial. The mere fact that the accused was on bail in the course of the 13-year trial of the case and did not violate bail conditions does not warrant a suspension of sentence and grant of bail".
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