The much-hyped 21-year-old disproportionate assets case more famously known as Jayalalithaa DA case was finally decided on Tuesday by the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, for Justice Michael D'Cunha it was business as usual. Justice Cunha who is a judge at the Karnataka high court spent the day disposing off criminal petitions at Court Hall 29. It was Justice D'Cunha who had first passed the order convicting Jayalalithaa and three others in the disproportionate assets case.
D'Cunha had one of the most difficult tasks ahead of him when he appointed to her the case in the trial court. The case had already been delayed several times after the case was first filed in 1996. After the special court was set up in Bengaluru following a Supreme Court order, there were four judges who heard the case before D'Cunha did. The first judge was A S Pachapure, following, but he was elevated to the high court.
Following this, A T Munoli took over as and after he retired, B M Mallikarjunaiah was appointed as the judge. After his retirement in August 2012, M S Balakrishna took over the case, who retired in September 2013; following which, D' Cunnha was appointed as the special court judge.
D'Cunha, in the legal fraternity was considered to a no-nonsense judge. On the first day of him sitting he gave a clear indication that he meant business and would let the trial get delayed at any cost. There were various attempts made to delay the case, but D'Cunha ensured that the trial was on track.
He was particularly tough on the day he was delivering the verdict when the accused tried seeking an adjournment. D'Cunha had said that there has already been too much delay and during this period Jayalalithaa had already become CM twice.
The proceedings were to commence at 11 am. Just a while before the proceedings the court officer was seen instructing all the AIDMK supporters-cum-lawyers to remain seated. They were told that inside the court, the judge is above all and at no cost should any of them stand up when Jayalalithaa enters into the court hall. "All of you shall stand up only when the judge enters into the court," they were told.
However, the AIDMK men had a better way to outsmart the instructions given by the court officer. They decided not to sit down. They continued to stand until she entered into the court.
When Jayalalithaa entered the court sharp at 11 am, there was an air of confidence around her and no signs of nervousness. At some level she felt that she would be acquitted, which her lawyers had obviousty been telling her all along. She greeted her lawyers and even the co-accused barring Sudhakaran, before she sat down.
However, the confidence was short-lived. The judge wanted to waste no time in reading out the judgment in full. He came to the point immediately and read out the operative portion of the verdict.
The judge said by around 11.10 am that the prosecution had proven beyond reasonable doubt that offences of corruption had been committed by Jayalalithaa, Sasikala Natrajan, Ilavarasi and Sudhakaran.
Jayalalithaa looked shocked. All the beaming confidence 10 minutes before the pronouncement of the verdict had vanished. She just continued to stare blankly. After a while, she just continued to stare at Sasikala, and did not utter a word.
When she came back at 1 pm, the court asked her why she should not be given a harsh sentence. She gave a lot of explanations about the time that had gone by and also spoke about the various welfare schemes that she had implemented.
She also told the court that the state's administration is very important. However the court was not impressed, and in fact, the judge felt that she was not being remorseful and continued to defend herself despite the conviction.