The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Tansi case back to haunt Jaya

New Delhi, Sept. 11: The Tansi land scam came back to haunt Jayalalithaa, even as the Tamil Nadu chief minister dared Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in the Cauvery water issue, with Subramanian Swamy contending before the Supreme Court that the purchase of the government land by her during her 1991-96 tenure was against public interest.

The land purchase case had unseated Jayalalithaa as chief minister in 2001 after gaining her the dubious distinction of being the first convicted person in the country to be sworn in as chief minister.

Swamy and DMK member R. Sai Bharati were the original complainants in the case. After Madras High Court quashed the charges against Jayalalithaa, enabling her to contest the Andipatti byelection and become an MLA, the apex court gave liberty to the original complainants to pursue with the case as the prosecution, which is the state itself, did not prefer to go on an appeal against the high court verdict.

Jayalalithaa was convicted in the case by the trial court and was disqualified from contesting the 2001 Assembly elections. However, she was sworn in as chief minister by the then state governor, Fathima Beevi.

On an appeal, the Supreme Court, then presided by Justice S.P. Bharucha, unseated her on the ground that a convicted person could not be sworn in as chief minister. Subsequently, Madras High Court held that the land was not owned by the government and quashed the charges against Jayalalithaa. She then contested the byelection to become an MLA and was sworn in as chief minister once again in the current Assembly.

Swamy contended that irrespective of whether the land was a government one or not and irrespective of whether the land price was less or correct, the purchase was against public interest, squarely attracting Section 13(1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act dealing with public servants.

Swamy also pointed out that the then state government order had stipulated that only those with experience to run an industry should purchase the land. This was also violated as Jayalalithaa, having no prior knowledge about running an industry, purchased the land.

Swamy contended that in her defence, Jayalalithaa did not answer the charge of violation of public interest in the purchase of the land.

Earlier Sai Bharati's counsel Andhiyarjuna had contended that under section 169 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) Jayalalithaa could not buy the land “as a public servant when she was legally bound not to bid for the purchase of the property”.

He also contended that Jayalalithaa had abused her position as a public servant (as chief minister) to obtain for herself and accused No. 2 (Jayalalithaa's live in friend N.Sasikala) a pecuniary advantage of Rs. 3.5 crores.

Swamy will resume his arguments tomorrow after which well known senior advocate K.K.Venugopal will commence his arguments defending Jayalalithaa in the case.

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