May,11,2015: Read the text of the verdict that has a nation riveted – and which let former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa walk free.at the bottom.
In a major victory for AIADMK, a special bench of the Karnataka High Court on Monday set aside the trial court order convicting former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa in the disproportionate assets case.
On Ms. Jayalalithaa’s income, the High Court said that the trial court has not appreciated the evidence in a proper perspective.
The Karnataka High Court on Monday said that AIADMK general secretary Jayalalithaa was entitled for acquittal as the disproportionate assets (DA) held by her was less than 10 per cent of her income as per the guidelines of the Apex Court for acquitting public servants based on the quantum of DA possessed by them in the corruption cases.
The Court said that Ms. Jayalalithaa possessed DA of only Rs.2,82,36,812 while declining to accept the case of the prosecution that she had DA of RS. 66.65 crore or the DA amount of Rs. 53.6 crore arrived at by the special court.
In his 919-page verdict, Justice C.R. Kumaraswamy said that "the prosecution has mixed up assets of accused, firms and companies and also added the cost of construction i.e., Rs.27,79,88,945 and marriage expenses at Rs.6,45,04,222/- and valued the assets at Rs.66,44,73,573."
"If we remove the exaggerated value of cost of construction and marriage expenses, the assets will work out at Rs.37,59,02,466. The total income of the accused, firms and companies is Rs.34,76,65,654. Lack of proportion amount is Rs.2,82,36,812/-. The percentage of disproportionate assets is 8.12%. It is relatively small," the Court found on analysing the documents.
From the Apex Court’s verdict in Krishnanand Agnihotri’s case, the High Court said that when there is disproportionate asset to the extent of 10%, the accused are entitled for acquittal. Also the High Court took note of a circular issued by the Government of Andhra Pradesh that disproportionate asset to the extent of 20% can also be considered as a permissible limit.
Based on Krishnanand Agnihotri’s case and AP government’s circular, Justice Kumaraswamy concluded that disproportionate assets of 10% to 20% has been taken as a permissible limit in DA cases while taking into consideration the inflatory measures.
"In the instant case, the disproportionate asset is less than 10% and it is within permissible limit. Therefore, accused are entitled for acquittal. When the principal accused [Ms. Jayalalithaa] has been acquitted, the other accused, who have played a lesser role are also entitled for acquittal," Justice Kumaraswamy said.
On Ms. Jayalalithaa’s income, the High Court said that the trial court has not appreciated the evidence in a proper perspective. "Though the trial court in its judgment mentioned that the accused availed loan by the Indian Bank, but it has not considered the same as income. Therefore, the trial court has erred in not considering the loans as income…"
In this case, the trial court has ignored the Income Tax proceedings as minimum evidentiary value, the High Court said.