Chennai, March 29: The Supreme Court has decided to hear a petition challenging the decision of the Karnataka High Court in admitting the appeal filed by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, J Jayalalithaa challenging her conviction in the disproportionate assets case.
While this matter has been ordered to be clubbed with the main case, during the course of the arguments, Jayalalithaa too is likely to raise the issue of locus standi and how Karnataka could file the appeal in the Supreme Court.
Legal experts say that while both these points have been well settled over and over again, the Supreme Court will still hear it. If the Supreme Court goes by the earlier precedents then both these contentions will be rejected, but the fact is that it would delay proceedings.
Challenging the locus standi:
A petition was filed by an advocate in the Supreme Court stating that the Karnataka High Court had no jurisdiction to admit the appeal filed by Jayalalithaa. She had moved the Karnataka High Court after she was convicted by the trial court. However at that time the legal team of Jayalalithaa did not raise any such point.
However, after she was acquitted by the Karnataka High Court and the state of Karnataka went up in appeal to the Supreme Court, she decided to raise the issue of locus standi. She said that Karnataka had no right to file the appeal in the Supreme Court as it was a case registered in Tamil Nadu.
The fact of the matter is that this is a well settled point of law and only Karnataka can file the appeal. The trial was held in a court in Karnataka as ordered by the Supreme Court. Hence the appellate jurisdiction lies before the Karnataka High Court. It was Karnataka which was the prosecuting agency in the trial court.
Further before the High Court it was Karnataka's prosecutor who argued the matter and hence it was only natural that Karnataka went up in appeal before the Supreme Court.
In the Karnataka legal department, the statements by Jayalalithaa have been seen as an attempt to delay the appeal. It is a well settled point of law and has been dealt with by both the Supreme Court and the High Court in the past, Karnataka would contend.
It may be recalled that the issue had come up for hearing in the Karnataka High Court where the right of Karnataka to appoint a special public prosecutor had been challenged.
Moreover, it is also questioned as to why Jayalalithaa and three others convicted by the trial court had decided to challenge that decision before the Karnataka High Court. Even when the appeal was being heard in the High Court, the special prosecutor B V Acharya who made written submissions was appointed by the Karnataka government.
Karnataka contends that the state appointing the special public prosecutor is automatically the prosecuting state and hence only it has the right to file an appeal.
Further an interpretation of the Code of Criminal Procedure also states that a special public prosecutor is appointed for a case and not for a court. It has been settled that it is Karnataka which has the powers to prosecute and also the Supreme Court too had given the state the powers to appoint the SPP, he also added.
Karnataka feels that there will be some amount of delay before arguments on the appeal would commence. Karnataka in its appeal has pointed to several errors in the verdict of the High Court which acquitted Jayalalithaa and others. It has also argued that the SPP was not given any time to argue the case and instead had to file written submissions.