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Mummy Kani tugs at Victorian hearts - Gender and motherhood in bail plea

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By IMRAN AHMED SIDDIQUI AND PHEROZE L.VINCENT
  • Published 7.05.11
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New Delhi, May 6: A cry for a “Victorian sense of chivalry” rang out in court today as Kanimozhi, MP and daughter of M. Karunanidhi, tied her bail plea to her gender, motherhood and clean record.

Without directly blaming Raja, her lawyer Ram Jethmalani suggested she should not be held accountable for the actions of the former telecom minister, who was sitting away from the legion of Kanimozhi supporters in the courtroom.

“Bail is a right and should be treated as reward for my sex, motherhood and my clean record,” Jethmalani said, speaking for his client.

“I hope we have not lost the Victorian sense of chivalry,” he told the judge after filing the bail application in the 2G spectrum allocation case, saying that being a woman Kanimozhi was fit to get bail.

The 43-year-old Kanimozhi, who had yesterday asserted that she was “no easy target”, had in the morning displayed the protective instincts of a mother by shielding her son with her dupatta from the glare of cameras. The school-going Aditya had rushed down the stairs to wish luck to his mother who was leaving Tamil Nadu House in Delhi through the backdoor with her husband G. Aravindan, a businessman largely based in Singapore.

In the CBI special court, Kanimozhi’s lawyer blamed Sharad Kumar, a close associate of A. Raja and director and chief executive officer of the DMK-owned Kalaignar TV.

Indirectly, Jethmalani also passed the blame to the former telecom minister. “Even if Raja got the bribe money transferred from Dynamix group to Kalaignar TV, then what is the charge against me? I did not play any part unless Raja says he collected the bribe and paid a portion of it to me,” Jethmalani told the court on behalf of his client.

Jethmalani had prefaced his defence with a statement that “my arguments should not prejudice the case of other accused persons, including A. Raja”.

However, the discomfiture of the DMK ministers and MPs who had turned out in strength was palpable. DMK spokesperson T.K.S. Elangovan later dismissed suggestions that the party was dumping Raja to save the daughter. “Jethmalani does not belong to the DMK. He is defending Kanimozhi, and Raja will be defended by his advocate. This is how the court proceedings work,” he said.

One MP fainted but that was because of the heat, which a party supporter tried to tackle by jumping on a table to switch on an air-conditioner. But he had to retreat after being chided. “This is a courtroom, not a hotel room,” a lawyer told the DMK supporter.

The bail hearing will resume tomorrow. Kanimozhi, who can be arrested if bail is rejected, wore a smile and often spoke to those around her, not forgetting to offer chewing gum to some reporters before having one.

Before going out during the 45-minute lunch break, she and Raja exchanged glances while her husband shook hands with the former minister.

At 4pm, when the proceedings were adjourned, Kanimozhi went across and shook hands with Raja. She sat behind him, spoke to him for five minutes in Tamil and left but not before waving at Raja who stood up and raised a hand.

Earlier, Kanimozhi had anchored her defence on distancing herself from the day-to-day affairs of the channel. “I did not sign any document to facilitate the transfer of the alleged bribe of Rs 200 crore from Shahid Usman Balwa’s company, DB Realty, to Kalaignar TV. I never attended a single board meeting of the channel. Kumar chaired all the meetings and he was signatory to all the agreements,” Kanimozhi said.

Kumar holds a 20 per cent stake in the channel while another 20 per cent shares belong to Kanimozhi. The remaining 60 per cent shares are held by Karunanidhi’s second wife and Kanimozhi’s stepmother Dayalu Ammal, who is a witness in the case.

Kanimozhi and Kumar have been charged with criminal conspiracy and taking bribes along with Raja.

Kanimozhi told the court that the CBI was victimising her as she was the daughter of chief minister Karunanidhi. “It’s my misfortune that I am Karunanidhi’s daughter and a member of Parliament. I did not participate in the launching of Kalaignar TV. It’s a motive to hold the entire family to ransom,” Kanimozhi told the court, questioning the CBI’s claim that she was the active brain behind the TV channel.

“What has my active brain done? Show me one evidence against me…. They (the CBI) are just making dishonest statements. How do I know how Raja got the money?” she added, pointing out that although she was the director of the channel when it was launched, she had later resigned.

Jethmalani said the CBI’s argument in the chargesheet that his client was in regular touch with Raja did not mean she was an accused.