JAYALALITHAA AGAIN: IT WAS MATTER OF ‘WHEN’ ONLY

It was matter of ‘when’ only and it came today.

J. Jayalalithaa became the chief minister of Tamil Nadu again. And she is stronger this time, than her absolute victory in 2011 assembly polls and an even performance in 2014 Lok Sabha polls. In 2011, she won 150 out of 234 assembly seats. DMDK was a distant second with 29 sears. DMK could win just 23 seats. In 2014 LS polls, extending the winning streak of 2011, her party AIADMK won 37 of 39 seats.

Yes, the disproportionate assets case that has derailed her juggernaut has still life if it is pursued in the Supreme Court but the Karnataka government and her political opponents are yet to make up their minds in spite of debating the matter in the media.

Probably she took her time, from May 11, the day of her acquittal by the Karnataka High Court, to further handle such issues before taking the reins of the state again, for the fifth time. Her first public appearance came only yesterday when she met the Tamil Nadu Governor K. Rosaiah to stake claims again.

She was convicted by a Bangalore court last September in a DA case and was imprisoned for four years and Rs. 100 crore fine. It led to her disqualification till the decision on her appeal by the Karnataka High Court. The case had to be shifted out of Tamil Nadu and the decision had come after 18 years.

Like September 2001, when Jayalalithaa was barred from holding the chief-ministerial post after she was found guilty in cases including the TANSI land deal, her trusted aide and the current Finance Minister O. Panneerselvam was made the chief minister again, even if ‘temporarily’. On both occasions, he did not enter the chief minister’s office.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeted her on her swearing-in. He was there in 2011 as the Gujarat’s chief minister when she took the office for the fourth time. The PMO Twitter handle tweeted – “PM @narendramodi congratulates Jayalalithaa ji on taking oath as CM of Tamil Nadu and conveys his best wishes to her & her team.”

He had also congratulated her on her acquittal from the Karnataka HC in the DA case. A Union Minister of the BJP was present there today. Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu sent his wishes. Clearly, Jayalalithaa knows how imperative she is for the Centre for floor management exercise of the Indian Parliament where the BJP is in underwhelming minority in the upper house, the Rajya Sabha. In turn, a friendly tie with a strong prime minister and majority Union Government can be very helpful, especially when elections are just a year away.

It will be interesting to see the further political developments in the state where elections are less than a year away. ‘Amma’ (mother, as she if fondly called) is back after her exoneration from a higher court and she will exploit both the gains now – the ‘pluses’ of exoneration that come after her ‘victimization’ in the DA case.

Tamil Nadu’s ‘who’s who’ including Rajinikanth, Sharat Kumar, N. Srinivasan and A. C. Muthaiah were present during the grand oath-taking ceremony in the Centenary Auditorium of Madras University. Jaya’s fans were shouting slogans and were looking to get a glimpse of their leader. Giant screens at different places were broadcasting the event live.

The oath-ceremony today should be seen from the political perspective of a state assembly election that is to be held around April 2916. And therefore, it was all in the grand style of the South Indian politics – especially of Tamil Nadu.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

FINDING JUSTICE: A HERCULEAN TASK, EVEN A MIRAGE FOR SOME

Salman and Jayalalithaa may walk free in finality but we will keep asking questions.

Well, legal recourse is a costly thing in this country and how it serves the purpose of the high and mighty is clear, first from Salman Khan’s hit and run case, and then in J. Jayalalithaa’s disproportionate assets case.

In both cases, the trial in lower courts dragged on for years. 13 years in Salman’s case and 18 years in Jayalalithaa’s case.

Salman got interim bail on the same day of conviction and got his sentence suspended and full-time bail on the very second day of his conviction.

Jayalalithaa got bail on 21st day of her conviction by the lower court (bail from the Supreme Court) and in 8 months, got it overturned in the Karnataka High Court, the High Court that had denied her bail when she had approached it on 10th of her conviction.

Bombay High Court will now hear Salman’s case with claimed testimonies that were not taken into account by the prosecution at the lower court. Salman is a big star, probably the biggest mass star today. He is a changed man now and he also runs a charity that works well.

And irrespective of what the law says, what his past and present say and what the courts say, the changed perception about him, with all his resources, will a play major role here.

With Jayalalithaa, the Supreme Court will hear her acquittal next (if challenged). O Paneerselvam, Jayalalithaa’s trusted aid and the current chief minister of Tamil Nadu, who took over from Jayalalithaa after she was sentenced by the lower court, has offered his resignation, as the sources say and the best battery of lawyers including a legal luminary will represent the next Tamil Nadu chief minister (in natural circumstances) in the Supreme Court.

Though Jayalalithaa is yet to make a public appearance, she is sure to take over from her trusted aide of all seasons. She sees herself as the ‘gold refined by fire’ even if her opponents find mathematical discrepancies in the High Court judgment in ‘calculating’ her income.

The legal luminaries involved in these cases would cost crores that someone with deep pockets like a Salman Khan or J. Jayalalithaa can well afford.

Serious cases have their range in thousands (of Rs) in lower courts. The very cases in High Courts turn to cost you in lakhs. And in case of Supreme Court, even a single hearing involving these legal luminaries may run into lakhs or tens of lakhs. Even an unheard lawyer of the Supreme Court would cost around a lakh for Special Leave Petition for a single appearance in the apex court of India.

Filing a case of serious nature and fighting it seriously in Indian courts, with multilayered corruption and shoddy professional integrity, would cost you dearly. A good battery of lawyers including legal luminaries of this country can complicate any case to the extent that it takes years before the case reaches to any conclusion.

Those who can afford fighting a case though its different layers, demands and years, stay in the league to get the decision while those who cannot, i.e., the majority of this country, bow out in the process.

Collage-May13,2015

Featured image courtesy: Images sources from websites of Being Human, AIADMK and e-Court project, Government of India

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

A STAR, A BIG POLITICIAN AND GLIMPSES OF KNOWN IRONY

First it was a celebrity actor, dear to millions, a big personality with a wide acceptability and every mean was available to him to used the best of the legal minds.

Then it was a national level politician, a de facto chief minister of a state, dear to her voters who count in millions and she, too, had access to every legal mind she wanted available to.

From Friday, May 8 to Monday, May 11, it is just three days and we are raising questions, like never before, once again.

In both cases, higher courts seem to reject the decision of lower courts. We have an assumption in case of lower courts, that in spite of the big names, lower courts usually deliver a tough verdict in serious and highlighted cases.

There are various reasons behind it including an adverse entry by a senior judge in case there is shoddy delivery of judgment.

The reason behind that assumption suffered a serious setback with these two cases.

In Salman Khan’s hit and run case, the court proceedings dragged on for 13 years. He was delivered a sentence of five years for killing a person a injuring four others when he lost control of his car in a drunk state of mind. Within few hours, the high court granted him interim bail and within two days, suspended the sentence of the lower court and granted him bail raising questions on the judgement itself.

I remember reading an IANS report before his sentencing by the lower court which said, quoting film industry experts, that film industry was not worried about Salman’s sentencing as it would take years for the final verdict in the apex court, even 10 to 15 years, and Salman would be 60+ by then.

In Jayalalithaa’s disproportionate assets (notoriously/famously known as the DA case), the lower court, after many twists and turns, reached on a guilty verdict, after 18 years. Special Court’s judge John Michael D’Cunha was scathing in his verdict on September 27, 2014. According to a report in India Today, D’Cunha was known as a no-nonsense judge. The report said about him – “Special Judge John Michael D’Cunha, who convicted Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa in the disproportionate assets case on Saturday, has a reputation of being a no-nonsense judge who gave an indication of his stern approach while dealing with the politically volatile case.”

But on 21st day of it, Jayalalithaa, who had left the chief minister’s chair for her trusted aide O. Paneerselvam, as the verdict needed her (her four year prison term disqualified her from holding any office and contesting polls), got bail from the Supreme Court, if not the High Court which denied her so.

And within 8 months, a judge from that Karnataka High Court totally overturns the decision of the lower court. Today, the Karnataka High Court acquitted her of all charges in the case and rejected the decision of the lower court.

Glimpses of a known irony!

13 years to the same day and then within 2 days – beginning of the trial court in the lower court to sentencing – interim bail on the same day – suspension of sentence and bail by the High Court on the second day

18 years to 21 days to 8 months – beginning of the trial in the lower court to sentencing – bail from the Supreme Court – acquittal from the High Court

It’s not about Justice John Michael D’Cunha Vs Justice C. R. Kumaraswamy.

It’s not about Justice D. W. Deshpande Vs Justice Abhay Thipsay.

It’s about ‘trust’ and its ‘value’. It’s about treatment of the law and its approach towards the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’.

In both cases, higher courts found many ‘loopholes’ in the judgments of lower courts. From May 8 to May 11, one judgment (in Salman’s case) was suspended (with serious questions on judgment) and other was overturned (in Jayalalithaa’s DA case) – but not without questions among the general public.

Two important cases for Indian democracy and the lower courts understood (what this article thinks) their importance when they delivered the verdicts – only to be questioned and rejected by the higher courts.

Yes, the higher courts have all the rights to differ from the verdicts of the lower courts and we have a judicial process right to the level of the Supreme Court to address grievances and differences and it comes as a lease of life in many cases.

But, in these two cases, we are asking so many questions.

And that is the problem area. Their release should not raise so many questions but there are questions.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/