New Delhi, Feb 14: It is almost certain that a division bench of the Supreme Court will deliver two separate verdicts in the Jayalalithaa disproportionate assets case on Tuesday. The list of business in the Supreme Court's cause list mentions the names of both Justices Pinaki Chandra Ghose and Amitava Roy. This makes it clear that both would deliver separate judgments.
Delivering two separate judgments throws up a lot of possibilities. If the judges deliver a split verdict then the matter would be referred to a three judge bench which would have to hear arguments once again before delivering the verdict. This would be the final judgment. Let us examine the possibilities.
Before that let us take a quick recap of how the case stands. The trial court in Bengaluru had convicted Jayalalithaa, Sasikala Natarajan, Ilavarasi and Sudhakaran. The court had slapped a Rs 100 crore fine and sentenced all four to 4 years in jail. The Karnataka high court, however, reversed that order while acquitting all four. Karnataka filed an appeal in the Supreme Court challenging the acquittal. The order was reversed in June 2016 and will be pronounced at 10.30 am on Tuesday.
Here are the possibilities
If the judges differ in their verdict, then the matter is referred to the Chief Justice of India who in turn would constitute a three judge bench to decide on the case.
When the matter is referred to the third judge, the order of acquittal passed by the high court would be in force. This would mean Sasikala can ascend to the seat of the chief minister of Tamil Nadu.
If both judges agree on the conviction, but differ on the sentence, then Sasikala would stand disqualified to occupy the CMs chair. Only the quantum of the sentence would be decided by a three judge bench. An order of conviction would disqualify Sasikala from contesting an election within six months of her swearing in which is a pre-requisite under the Representation of People's Act.
There is also every chance the Supreme Court can refer the matter back to the Karnataka high court for fresh consideration since Jayalalithaa, who was the main accused in the case, is no more.