A million dollar conundrum!!! Jaya’s health may be breaking down both mentally and physically because of the strong challenge mounted by the Karnataka Government in the Supreme Court.
Is something wrong with Jayalalilthaa and is something wrong with her health? These are two issues being debated actively in the political circles of Tamil Nadu and the corridors of power in Fort St. George in Chennai.
The five time Chief Minister, who recently “won” a huge legal victory on her disproportionate assets case seems to have almost gone underground, at a time, when the world thought she would come out swinging.
Observers point out that the strong and absolute resoluteness that is being shown by the Karnataka Government in going after Jayalalithaa and pleading for an interim Stay in the Supreme Court is giving her the jitters all over again and may be contributing to the breakdown in her health, with the thought of having to deal all over again with the Supreme Court now.
Though, Jayalalitha and her co-accused very well know that an SLP would eventually be filed, they had never expected that the appeal would contain such a strong language and sources from Poes Garden reveal that Jaya & Co were very upset following the news of appeal.
She was so upset that an amount of around Rs.42 crores which was delivered in R.K. Nagar for distribution to voters was stopped following the news of SLP, say sources.
Jaya has plenty of reasons to be worried of. A bare reading of the appeal reveals the meticulous hard work in the preparation of the appeal.
The appeal raises several serious questions which is likely to result in a legal nightmare for the “Queen of Booty” who has all along thrived exploiting the people and their poverty, yet projecting herself as “Ms.Clean” of Indian politics.
After being acquitted in May this year, Jayalalithaaa has not been coming to office regularly and apparently comes to office only once in two weeks. Additionally, she has been in her office for a maximum period of only 45 minutes.
Adding gravitas to the theory of everything not being alright with her health is her rather lackluster and detached campaigning on June 22nd in RK Nagar, as compared to her vigorous and very high decibel campaign in Andipatti in a similar situation the last time around.
Observers point out that this is not typical Jayalalithaa, including the fact that barring a couple of changes, Jayalalitha stuck with her previous Cabinet, when she assumed charge as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu for the fifth time.
Unlike the past, Jayalalithaa, is not her usual self, who hit back at her detractors, commentators point out. Jayalalithaa, who always used to take pot shots and barbs at her arch rival M.Karunanidhi, has not made a single political statement even after the expiry of 45 days of her acquittal from the High Court of Karnataka.
On 11th May, 2015, when all her party faithful gathered for a glimpse of their Amma, and senior officers and Ministers and MLAs with an anxious look lined up in Poes Garden, she decided not to meet anyone, for reasons which remain mysterious till date.
Even after assuming charge, during the short time she spends at her office, she is always seen taking the remote control and unveiling various projects / schemes and welfare measures by video conferencing.
Whether Jayalalitha attends the tens of thousands of files that accumulate before her is anybody’s guess. Even during the video conferencing except Government photographers and Jaya TV crew, no one is allowed inside. Even these photographers are allowed inside only at a point when she is “picture ready”.
A reporter who is working in the Secretariat beat laments that their job is now that of a typist. There is absolutely no work for a journalist in Secretariat. They are being forced to carry verbatim the press releases and photographs issued by the Directorate of Information and Public Relations department and the DIPR department issues the press release in instalments. If Jayalalithaa unveils half a dozen schemes on a given day, the same will be released in three instalments to create an image as if Jaya attended Secretariat for three days.
Rumours doing the rounds is that Jayalaithaa due to her undisclosed ailments is not able to sit in a chair continuously. Recently in an interview to a weekly, DMK MLA J.Anbalagan told that Jayalalithaa should come out with an open statement or conduct a full fledged press meet to clear the air about her health.
Anbalagan stated “Lot of rumours are doing the rounds that physicians visit Jayalalithaa and give treatment to her. These rumours are strengthened by the fact that she does not even spend 45 minutes in Secretariat and no media is allowed during the video conferencing. This is a democracy. Why such secrecy?” wondered Anbalagan.
This rumour is again strengthened by another incident. Jayalalithaa is never kind towards criticism of any kind. She is a different kind of politician, who doesn’t like even minor criticism in any form. A veteran journalist recalls in an incident concerning ‘News Today’.
During a press meet in 1988, Jayalalitha told the scribes that she was suffering from some ailment and though the best place to cure her ailment would be USA, she has chosen to take treatment in India itself.
A news agency’s journalist who misheard it, sent a news wire, that Jayalalithaa is leaving for USA for treatment. The next day, the News Today management had to witness a dirty agitation by the women’s wing of AIADMK. TRR, the Editor of News Today, wrote a scathing piece on the agitation titling it ‘This scum should be removed from TN politics’. Last week, Nakkeeran, a Tamil bi-weekly, published a cover story, titled ‘Jaya leaves for USA’.
Though JayalalithAa doesn’t use her women’s wing for agitations after 1991-1996, is known to slap cases, left, right and center on media which is critical about her.
Dr.Subramanian Swamy, is facing five defamation cases now, for a claim that he was instrumental in solving the Mullai Periyar issue. But, Jayalalithaa, neither has condemned the Nakkiran story nor filed any defamation case.
“This is not the Jayalalithaa we know,” says a veteran journalist. “Jayalaltihaa will never tolerate such stories. If one sees her history, she had always slapped cases or attacked the media houses which write against her. Barring a few, almost all media houses in TN have faced Amma’s ire” adds the senior journalist.
But, this tenure of Jayalalithaa is shrouded from mystery from day one. The manner of appointing and depending on retired bureaucrats and Jaya not celebrating the victory in the Karnataka High Court and her sudden and extremely introverted behaviour raises several serious questions.
Another veteran political analyst though differs. He wonders, “when did Jaya attend and clear files properly? Has she ever wanted to work? Except a knee problem her health is fine. He may be right too. In 2006, after assuming charge, Karunanidhi, listed out the long pending files kept by Jayalalithaa for years together.
But, due to the behaviour of Jayalaithaa, the rumours cannot be quelled. Though no one discusses it openly, her health is a reason for lot of speculations. It should also not be forgotten that only during this tenure, Jayalalithaa had stayed in Kodanadu for long stretches and allegedly claimed to have attended to her routine work.
Only the British rulers had such luxury of shifting the Secretariat from Delhi to Simla during summers. But, like a banana republic, it is a shameful situation where, several senior officers were seen moving to and from Kodanadu. It is the same Jayalalithaa who stated that Secretariat could not be shifted to the new complex citing “administrative difficulties” and converted the complex to a hospital, resulting in draining tax payers money of over 1500 crore.
With TN Assembly’s budget session round the corner, it is anybody’s guess whether Jaya will attend the full session or go into a retreat after a couple of 110 statements.
Being the Chief Minister of the State, it is the duty of Jayalalithaa to come out with a categorical statement and quell the rumours. But, Jaya’s health was discussed only at the time of sentencing at the Special Court before Judge Michael D. Cunha where her counsel B.Kumar, listed various ailments.
But, like her entire life, the health aspect may also remain an enigma forever. Apart from the grounds listed below, what spells trouble for Jaya is the serious push by the State of Karnataka for an interim stay of the Karnataka HC judgment. “The charges are grave. The order of acquittal has resulted in gross miscarriage of justice. A serious totaling mistake has resulted in acquittal instead of an order confirming the conviction, apart from many other serious infirmities in the order including ignoring even the admitted figures given by the Accused themselves. The consequences of conviction under the Prevention of Corruption Act which also provide for disqualification under the Representation of People Act are erased illegally by an erroneous decision. If the said that if the judgment of the Hon’ble High Court is not stayed, it would result in travesty of justice”, says the appeal. Strong words indeed.
The following are main grounds taken up by the State of Karnataka:
Can an appeal against conviction be allowed in the absence of a duly appointed public prosecutor.
Can the appellate court come to a decision without allowing the prosecution to advance oral arguments, when the defence was allowed the concession which is in violation of natural justice.
Whether the decision of the High Court which is in violation of the directions issued by a three member Bench of SC on 27.04.2015.
Whether the appeal is sustainable in law considering that the HC failed to appreciate the evidence in the trial court.
Whether Justice Kumarasamy failed in his duties as an appellate judge ?
Whether the judgment of the HC is sustainable in view of its erroneous approach and failure to consider material on record ?
Whether the method adopted to value the disproportionate assets by the HC is erroneous and contrary to well accepted principles ?
Whether the valuation of construction cost and marriage expenses is erroneous or not ?
Whether the method of adopting the rates for the construction of sentry shed to fix the value of posh and palatial multi-storied buildings is proper ?
Whether the Judge has committed a serious error by ignoring even the admission of the accused for acquiring immovable properties and for construction of certain buildings ?
Whether Justice Kumarasamy committed a grave mistake by arriving at a percentage of 8.12 whereas the actual percentage, even according to his own methods is 76.7 ?
Whether Justice Kumarasamy recorded an erroneous finding in recording that the loans from nationalised banks have not been taken into consideration, whereas they had indeed been considered ?
Whether Justice Kumarasamy ignored the settled principles of law in arriving at a conclusion with regard to criminal conspiracy and abetment ?
Whether the 10% analogy in Krishnanand case is applicable to this case
Whether Justice Kumarasamy committed grave miscarriage of justice in Jaya’s case ?
These are the barrage of questions that the State of Karnataka has posed to the Supreme Court. The judgment of the SC in Jaya’s case will be a landmark judgment in respect to the Prevention of Corruption Act.
Normally in cases of appeal against acquittal, the higher courts don’t issue a stay since it would amount to violation of the fundamental rights of the accused persons. But, the assets case against Jayalalithaa is a bizarre case where basic arithmetical calculations resulted in an acquittal. This is a case where the accused had managed to drag on the case for more than 19 years and filed a petition seeking appointment of Public Prosecutor and Judge of her choice.
A joke doing the rounds in social media runs like this. Following the ‘helmet compulsory’ notification issued by the TN Government, a bike rider caught by a cop argues that since the head comprises less than 10% of the body, helmet cannot be made mandatory. Justice Kumarasamy has become a butt of jokes right from 12th May. Not only an arithmetical error has resulted in acquittal, but Justice Kumarasamy’s flawed approach on several counts needs to be corrected. The judgment has struck at the root of the Prevention of Corruption Act and the image of India’s Judiciary before the World! “It is indeed no longer about Jayalalithaa, it is about the institution and its image”, says a Senior Lawyer.
A failure to correct the course of this judgment would not only result in miscarriage of justice, but also would spell doom for the rich legacy of Indian judiciary. The way the Government of Karnataka has insisted on an interim stay, may result in the Supreme Court, taking an unprecedented move of staying the judgment.
A senior journalist, who is following this case since its beginning was candid. “This is an acid test for Indian Judiciary. It is high time the Supreme Court intervenes and set things right. This erroneous judgment could most likely be cited as case law. This judgment would open floodgates and many accused facing trial under Prevention of Corruption Act, are likely to cite this judgment and seek an acquittal. The very existence of the Supreme Court is to prevent corruption and it should ensure that this judgment does not remain unchallenged. Either this judgment should be stayed immediately, or the SLP should be disposed of in a time bound manner of a few months.”
As all eyes have turned towards the Supreme Court, it has to be seen, whether the Apex court passes the acid test or not.