New Delhi: The Supreme Court Friday summoned the original records of the appointment of Bhawani Singh as special public prosecutor (SPP) in disproportionate assets case against Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, who is being tried by a Bangalore special court.
The Karnataka government Sep 16 withdrew Bhawani Singh as SPP in Jayalalithaa's case after "due consultation with the Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court."
Jayalalithaa has moved the apex court seeking the reinstatement of Bhawani Singh and extension to the trial court judge who is retiring Sep 30, on the grounds that it would further delay the 18-year-old trial.
A bench of Justice B.S.Chauhan and Justice S.A. Bobde summoned the records of the appointment of Bhawani Singh in the wake of a submission by Jayalalithaa's counsel Shekhar Naphde, who while contesting Bhawani Singh's removal, said the Karnataka government's action would further delay the conclusion of the trial.
Naphade told the court that new SPP would take time to go through the case and similarly the new judge too would need the time to get abreast of the case.
As the court asked him how the change of SPP concerned Jayalalithaa as authorities could always do it, Naphade said his grievance is how could the decision of previous chief justice be "condemned".
"How it concerns you; I am the authority", observed Justice Chauhan as Naphade said that the decision of the previous chief justice stands condemned as if the acting chief justice passed the order mechanically.
"It makes difference to me as a trial is getting prolonged. The then chief justice was different does not make a difference as ultimately it is the institution," Naphade told the court.
While Bhawani Singh was on the third day of the final arguments before the court of the special judge trying the DA case against Jayalalithaa, the Karnataka government by its Aug 26 notification withdrew him as SPP of the case. However, this notification was rescinded after Attorney General G.E.Vahanvati, in an earlier round of hearing, made a statement to its affect before the apex court.
The apex court took exception to the fact that Bhawani Singh was removed without consulting the chief justice of the state high court. Thereafter, the state government after due consultation with the chief justice removed Bhawani Singh from the case.
Jayalalithaa in her petition has alleged that the abrupt change of Bhawani Singh has been done by the state's ruling Congress at the behest of her rival political party DMK in Tamil Nadu.
She is facing the trial in a disproportionate assets case that relates to the period when she was chief minister 1991-96 involving Rs 66 crore. The trial in the case was shifted outside Chennai by the apex court in 2003 to ensure free and fair trial.