#SasikalaConvicted: SC says HC made fundamental arithmetic blunder

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Karnataka, the prosecuting state in the Jayalalithaa disproportionate assets case had argued that it was a glaring arithmetic error that led to the acquittals in the case. The Karnataka high court had erred in the calculations which led to the acquittal of Jayalalithaa, Sasikala Natarajan, Ilavarasi and Sudhakaran, it was contended.

File photo of former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa.

The Supreme Court in its verdict agreed with Karnataka's stand that the total of the loan amount is calculated as Rs 24.17 crore. However, if added correctly, the total will be Rs 10.67 crore. This fundamental mistake in adding the individual loan amounts has inflated the income by Rs 13.5 crore, Karnataka contended.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday said that the percentage of disproportionate assets as 8.12 per cent as computed by the high court is based on completely wrong reading of evidence. Justice P C Ghose while writing the judgment said "After analysing the facts and circumstances of this case and after taking into consideration all the evidence placed before us and the arguments put forward by all the parties, we are of the unhesitant opinion that the impugned judgment and order rendered by the high court is untenable and is thus set aside. We have considered the facts of this case and in our opinion, the percentage of disproportionate assets as 8.12% as computed by the high court is based on completely wrong reading of the evidence on record compounded by incorrect arithmetical calculations."

"In view of the regnant evidence on record, unassailably proving the disproportionateness of the assets, as contemplated in Section 13(1)(e) of 1988 Act, it is inessential as well to resort to any arithmetic to compute the percentage thereof," Justice Ghose held.

Read the full Supreme Court order here: 

Criminal conspiracy:

Both the courts have construed all the assets, income and expenditure of all the accused collectively. "We see no convincing reason to adopt a different course which even otherwise, having regard to the charge, is not warranted," they said.

"Noticeably, the accused accepted all the findings of the high court. We have analysed the evidence adduced by the parties and we come to the conclusion that A1 to A4 have entered into a conspiracy and in furtherance of the same, A1 (Jayalalithaa) who was a public servant at the relevant time had come into possession of assets disproportionate to the known sources of her income during the check period and had got the same dispersed in the names of A2 (Sasikala) to A4 (Sudhakaran) and the firms and companies involved to hold these on her behalf with a masked front. Furthermore, the the charge of abetment laid against A2 to A4 in the commission of the offence by A1 also stands proved," the court said.

The court added, "We set aside the judgment and order of the high court and affirm and restore the judgment of the trial court in toto against A2 to A4. However, though in the process of scrutiny of the facts and the law involved and the inextricable nexus of A1 with A2 to A4, reference to her role as well as the evidence pertaining to her had been made, she having expired meanwhile, the appeals, so far as those relate to her stand abated."

Nevertheless, to reiterate, having regard to the fact that the charge framed against A2 to A4 is proved, the conviction and sentence recorded against them by the trial court is restored in full including the consequential directions.

Respondents A2 to A4, in view of this determination and the restoration of their conviction and sentence, would surrender before the trial court forthwith. The trial court is hereby also ordered to take immediate steps to ensure that the respondents A2 to A4 serve out the remainder of sentence awarded them and take further steps in compliance of this judgment, in accordance with law, Justice Ghose also said.

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