A special bench of the Karnataka High Court Wednesday adjourned to Oct 7 hearing of jailed former Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalithaa’s petition for suspension of the sentence and bail in a corruption case.
“In my considered opinion, hearing on this petition should be referred to a regular bench of the high court,” special bench judge Justice Rathnakala told defence counsel on the criminal revision petition and adjourned it Tuesday.
A special court here Sep 27 convicted 66-year-old Jayalalithaa in the Rs.66-crore disproportionate assets’ case and sentenced her to four years’ simple imprisonment, with a fine of Rs.100 crore under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Prevention of Corruption Act.
Declining to hear defence counsel Hashmath Pasha, the judge said there was no need for a special bench to hear the revision petition.
“A regular bench of the high court should hear the petition, as it is not appropriate for the special bench to consider the matter, which requires a thorough review,” Rathnakala reiterated and posted the case for hearing to Oct 7, as Oct 6 has been declared holiday for Eid festival.
The high court is on a week-long holiday since Sep 29.
Heading the vacation bench, Justice Rathnakala Tuesday adjourned the revision petition to Oct 6 before the state government declared holiday for that date (Monday) after Special Public Prosecutor G. Bhavani Singh informed the judge that he had no formal communication from the Karnataka or Tamil Nadu governments of being re-appointed as their prosecution counsel to appear before the high court.
Singh argued the 18-year-old graft case in the special court as the special public prosecutor of the Tamil Nadu’s department of vigilance and anti-corruption bureau (DVAC) and the Karnataka government after the case was transferred to Bangalore in November 2003 by the Supreme Court.
On an appeal by defence counsel Tuesday to Karnataka Chief Justice D.H. Waghela for an urgent hearing of the revision petition in view of the long holidays till Oct 6, the high court registrar constituted the special bench headed by Justice Rathnakala and posted it for hearing Wednesday.
Upset over the adjournment, a team of pro-Jayalalithaa lawyers staged a protest demonstration outside the court.
“We made special efforts to advance the case hearing to Wednesday from Oct 6 for getting immediate relief to Jayalalithaa. We are disappointed by the ruling of the special bench to adjourn it Oct 7,” one of the lawyers told reporters.
Revision petitions of other three persons – Sasikala Natarajan, V.K. Sudhakaran and J. Ilavarasi, who were also convicted and sentenced for four years’ imprisonment along with Jayalalithaa, were also adjourned to Oct 7.