Jayalalithaa appeal: What if SC strikes down appointment of SPP

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As judgment day for J Jayalalithaa approaches, there is an interesting battle on in the Supreme Court regarding the appointment of the Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) in the disproportionate assets case. [DMK moves SC for removal of public prosecutor in Jayalalithaa DA case]

Up for challenge is the appointment of SPP Bhavani Singh to argue in the High Court where Jayalalithaa and others have filed an appeal against the conviction awarded to them in the disproportionate assets case by the special court. [Tamil Nadu: Pooja performed in Rameswaram temple for Jaya's return as CM]


DMK leader K Anbazhagan is seeking removal of SPP Bhavani Singh. The fact of the matter is that the arguments before the High Court are complete and the verdict is set to be pronounced anytime soon.

What happens if the Supreme Court strikes down the appointment of Bhavani Singh? Does this mean that the case will have to be re-heard considering that in the duration of the two month appeal before the High Court it was Bhavani Singh who argued the case.

A curious stand by Karnataka?

Yesterday when the matter was being heard, Karnataka took a very confusing stand on the matter. It had clearly said that the appointment of Bhavani Singh as the SPP in the case was wrong.

The Karnataka government told the Supreme Court that once the trial is over the SPP has no authority to appear in the appeal proceedings before the High Court.

The Supreme Court was quick to point out to Karnataka as to why they did nothing to prevent him from appearing. It is one thing to say in words and another to do in deeds was what the Supreme Court also said.

The matter has now been adjourned and during the next date of hearing the Supreme Court will decide whether it was right in law to appoint Bhavani Singh as the SPP in the case before the High Court.

Will the matter have to be reheard if appointment is struck down?

The next question that one needs to ask is if the Supreme Court does hold that the appointment of Bhavani Singh as the SPP to appear in the High Court was wrong then what happens to the case.

If the Supreme Court holds the appointment as wrong and strikes it down, would that mean that the case will have to be reheard before the high court from scratch? Legal experts say that the Supreme Court would ensure that precious time is not wasted and would cure the defect.

Even if it holds that the appointment of the SPP was not correct, it could direct the state government to issue a fresh notification which is back dated. The Supreme Court does have this power.

In this case it has been pointed out that Karnataka did not issue any fresh notification appointing Bhavani Singh. There was only a notification appointing him as the SPP before the special court after the first SPP B V Acharya resigned.

Bhavani Singh came into the picture before the High Court based on a notification issued by the Tamil Nadu government. The argument undertaken is that the TN government has no right to appoint the SPP in the case. Only Karnataka can issue a notification appointing the SPP.

More emphasis on SPP than the real case:

The entire case when it was argued before the High Court focused largely on the appointment of Bhavani Singh. The DMK leader was hell bent on telling the court that Singh had no right to argue the case and the appointment process itself was wrong.

When the case was first transferred to Karnataka it was B V Acharya who was appointed as the SPP by the Karnataka government. After he resigned another notification appointing Bhavani Singh was issued.

However the argument is that this notification is applicable only for the proceedings before the Special Court. When the matter came up in appeal for the first time before the High Court, Singh had submitted that he had received no notification appointing him as the SPP for the High Court case. He had told the court that he had only read in the newspaper that the TN government had appointed as SPP.

Singh files vakalath:

When the case came up again, Singh filed a vakalath to appear in the case and this was done on the basis of the notification issued by the Tamil Nadu government appointing him as the SPP.

A petition was moved by Anbazhagan stating that Singh cannot continue. To this the Advocate General of Karnataka said that they had no role to play in the appointment of a SPP while also adding that the Supreme Court had only told them appoint an SPP in the trial court.

When the matter came up before the High Court, it said that Tamil Nadu had no role to play in the appointment of the SPP. It also observed that TN has no jurisdiction in the case, while pointing out that only Karnataka can appoint the SPP.

The matter was then taken before a Division Bench which said that Singh will continue as the SPP unless the state issues a fresh notification with another name. The court also observed that SPP is case and not court specific.

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