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SC stalls trial in Jaya assets case

New Delhi, Feb. 28 (PTI): The Supreme Court today stayed trial proceedings against Jayalalithaa in the Rs 66-crore disproportionate assets cases.

The apex court ruling came on a petition filed by a DMK leader, accusing the prosecution of working under the influence of the state government and acting in undue haste to complete the trial.

A bench of Justice S. Rajendra Babu and Justice B.N. Agrawal also issued a notice to the Union government on DMK general secretary K. Anbazhagan’s plea for transfer of the cases from Chennai to any other place outside Tamil Nadu.

The notices were also issued to Jayalalithaa, her confidante Sasikala, the state director-general of police and four others.

Appearing for the petitioner, senior advocate T.R. Andhyarujina submitted that “if the state government which is headed by Jayalalithaa as chief minister is to be in charge of the conduct of the prosecution of the case, in which she figures as an accused, it will result in the negation of justice and the rule of law”.

The petitioner expressed apprehension that the public prosecutor appointed by the state government would be biased.

Pointing out that Jayalalithaa’s Cabinet colleagues openly claim that these are false cases, the petitioner accused the ADMK cadre of “attempting to terrorise the investigating officers and the witnesses by their public statements and their conduct”.

He, therefore, sought transfer of the two cases to courts of equal and competent jurisdiction in another state.

The DMK welcomed the Supreme Court’s move granting the stay to Jayalalithaa. The apex court has prevented an “injustice being committed”, DMK president M. Karunanidhi said in Chennai.

“We went to the Supreme Court on the plea that it will not be right to go ahead with the trial, with an advocate appointed by a government which is headed by one who is the accused in the case,” he said.

The Supreme Court has given only an interim stay against the conduct of the trial. “We will consult legal experts on the further course of action,” the DMK president added.

When the former DMK government wanted to conduct the trial, Jayalalithaa and the other accused adopted delaying tactics on health grounds, but the very same people now want the trial to be conducted fast, Karunanidhi said.

On the arrest of party MLA K. Ponmudi, he said the DMK would face the case legally and politically. Jayalalithaa wanted to eliminate all those who opposed her, Karunanidhi said, adding that it was “true to her character”.

He appreciated the steps taken by the Union minister of state for railway A.K. Moorthy in bringing some projects to Tamil Nadu in the railway budget.

Budget welcome

Sending yet another feeler to the BJP at the Centre, Jayalalithaa tonight welcomed the “growth-oriented” aspects of the Union budget presented by finance minister Jaswant Singh.

The ADMK leader said the extension of the Antyodaya scheme to 60 lakh additional beneficiaries, the new health insurance scheme for below-poverty-line families and the budget’s emphasis on infrastructure development were commendable.

Urging the Centre to develop the Chennai airport to attain international standards, Jayalalithaa urged that one of two proposed international convention centres be located in Chennai.

The ADMK chief also hailed the constitution of a price stabilisation fund for small tea growers. But Jayalalithaa urged the Centre to reconsider the increase in the price of fertilisers, including urea.

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