New Delhi/Chennai, Oct 17 (IANS) The Supreme Court Friday granted bail to jailed former Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalithaa, triggering celebrations in the state by the cadres of her AIADMK.
Along with Jayalalithaa who was convicted and sentenced to four years jail and a Rs.100 crore fine in the corruption case, the three other convicts including her former aide Sasikala Natarajan also got bail.
A bench of Chief Justice H.L. Dattu, Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice A.K.Sikri said all four will be released on bail subject to the satisfaction of the trial court’s conditions.
“… for the present, we suspend the sentence and direct that the petitioners, J. Jayalalithaa, N. Sasikala, V.N. Sudhakaran, and J. Elasvarasi be released on bail on executing a bond with two solvent sureties by each of them to the satisfaction” of the trial court at Bangalore,” the apex court said in its order.
The apex court made it clear that Jayalalithaa and the others, lodged in a Bangalore jail, have to complete their appeal, with all relevant documents, before the Karnataka High Court in two months and the high court will be asked to expedite and complete the hearing within three months.
The court told senior counsel Fali S. Nariman, appearing for Jayalalithaa, to stick to the deadline.
“If you don’t file appeal along with documents, you will not get the liberty of a day more,” Chief Justice Dattu told Nariman.
It listed the matter for Dec 18.
As the hearing began, the court said the case that started in 1990s took 18 years for the trial to be concluded and “if we pass order of suspension of sentence you will take two decades for the completion of the case”.
“Could we not take into consideration the conduct of the petitioner (Jayalalithaa) in the trial court, high court and this court in the course of the trial,” the court said expressing its misgivings.
Starting his argument, Nariman cited a series of apex court judgments wherein it had distinguished between suspension of sentence and conviction and said that normally in Prevention of Corruption Act cases, the court had suspended the sentencing except in exceptional cases.
As he suggested Jayalalithaa be confined to her house from which she would not move out except for her treatment, the court said: “This would be an unusual order. Either we grant bail to her or not. It can’t be granting her bail and confining her at home. This country believes in article 21 (protection of life and liberty).”
As Bharatiya Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy told the court that after the Karnataka High Court rejected her bail plea, her party cadre called the judges names and described them as “Kannadiga”.
“What others say we are not concerned. We are concerned with out judicial conscience, said Chief Justice Dattu, adding: “I am also a Kannadiga.”
As Swamy said Jayalalithaa should tell her party workers to maintain law and order, Nariman supported him.
Jayalalithaa later appealed to her party members to maintain calm and not to comment about the judiciary, its procedures or the judge who convicted her in the case, as well not to indulge in any acts that would defame the judiciary and to maintain law and order.
The bail for Jayalalithaa came on a day when the AIADMK celebrated its 43rd anniversary, and was greeted by jubilation by the party.
AIADMK cadres – men and women – assembled outside the party headquarters in Chennai and danced in joy. They burst crackers and distributed sweets.
“It is Diwali day for us,” a party worker said.
“We are very happy at the Supreme Court’s order. Our prayers have been answered. The real Diwali for us is today,” AIADMK MP P. Kumar told IANS.
Similar scenes were witnessed in Salem, Karur and Tuticorin too.
Jayalalithaa had moved the Supreme Court Oct 9, two days after the Karnataka High Court refused her bail.
The trial court in Bangalore convicted Jayalalithaa Sep 27 for possessing assets disproportionate to her known sources of income. The case involving an amount of Rs.66.65 crore, related to the period 1991-1996 when she first became Tamil Nadu chief minister.