Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Jayalalithaa not a convict, rules Madras HC

The Madras High Court on Wednesday dismissed a Public Interest Litigation filed against use of public money to construct a mausoleum for former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa after holding that she cannot be described as a convict since the Supreme Court had not set aside her acquittal from a disproportionate assets case by Karnataka High Court. 

A Division Bench of Justices M. Sathyanarayanan and P. Rajamanickam pointed out that she had died before the disposal of an appeal preferred against the acquittal and the Supreme Court had not specifically set aside her acquittal from the case after dealing with the matter on merits. The Supreme Court had only said the appeal against her stands abated. 
Therefore, as a necessary corollary it must be construed that she must be given the benefit of her acquittal from the case by the Karnataka High Court and therefore not be branded as a convict, the Bench observed. 
The PIL petition had been filed by advocate M.L. Ravi of Desiya Makkal Sakthi Katchi on the sole ground that she was a “convict” and therefore public funds should not be used for construction of a mausoleum for her. The petitioner, however, had no objection to the private funds being used for the construction.
The Division Bench had reserved its verdict on the PIL petition on December 20 last year, after hearing elaborate arguments advanced on behalf of the petitioner and Advocate General Vijay Narayan who asserted that by no stretch of imagination the former Chief Minister could be termed a convict. 
Right then, The Hindu had reported that the Bench has reserved its verdict after doubting whether Jayalalithaa could be termed a convict in the absence of a conclusive finding by the Supreme Court in the disproportionate assets case against her.

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