New Delhi: BJP leader Subramanian Swamy on Wednesday questioned the verdict of Karnataka High Court acquitting Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa and others in a disproportionate assets case in Supreme Court, saying there can be no leniency in prosecuting public servants holding high positions.
Swamy told the bench of justices Pinaki Chandra Ghose and Amitava Roy that leniency, as envisaged by the apex court in other cases, is not applicable when public servants in high places committed corrupt acts.
"The single appellate judge erred in applying the leniency (criteria) instead, in keeping with a catena of judgements of Supreme Court, (it) should have confirmed the conviction," he said, adding that "there can be no room for leniency in prosecuting corruption cases, especially of public servants holding high positions."
Swamy's submissions came after senior advocate B V Acharaya, appearing for Karnataka government, concluded his arguments on the appeals challenging the High Court verdict.
The BJP leader said the first key issue to be decided by the apex court was whether or not the income and wealth calculations by Karnataka High Court is accepted and whether the Rs 2.82 crores estimate of disproportionate assets should be taken as accurate.
He also questioned the role of the Superintendent of Police of Tamil Nadu, who was the sole respondent from the appeal stage before the High Court and till the end of proceedings.
"The issue is whether the judicial process was subverted or not by the vitiating circumstances of the appointment of the sole public prosecutor from Tamil Nadu," he said.
Besides Jayalalithaa, others accquited by the High Court were her close aide Sasikala and her two relatives, V N Sudhakaran and Elavarasi.
On July 27, last year the apex court had issued notices on Karnataka government's appeal seeking stay of the high court judgement to Jayalalithaa, Sasikala and her relatives V N Sudhakaran and Elavarasi, asking them to file their replies within eight weeks.
The apex court had then allowed an intervention application by Swamy in the matter and asked him to file the issues he wished to press before it.
The BJP leader further claimed that the substantial rebuttals raised by newly-appointed public prosecutor for Karnataka government were not addressed in the over 1000 page judgement delivered by the High Court.
"Thus I submit, decide whether or not there has been a miscarriage of justice vitiating the fair proceedings in the High Court," he said in his written submissions.
He claimed that the entire "re-calculation" done by the judge of Karnataka High Court was "arbitrary, unreasonable and unsupported" by any established procedure known in case law on corruption cases and "it trivializes the serious consequences of corruption."
"The judgement of the Karnataka High Court acquitting the respondents requires in the interest of justice, public interest and probity be scrutinised with judicial wisdom and strictness. The acquittal thus be set aside," Swamy said.
On February 23, the apex court had started final hearing on various appeals including one filed by Karnataka against the acquittal of the AIADMK chief and others in the case.
Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for Karnataka government, had said there were glaring mistakes in the order of the High Court acquitting Jayalalithaa and others which needed to be set aside.
The Karnataka HC had on May 11, 2015 ruled that AIADMK supremo's conviction by special court suffered from infirmity and was not sustainable in law, clearing decks for her return as Tamil Nadu Chief Minister.
Karnataka government, in its plea against the May 11 last year order, claimed that HC had erred in computing disproportionate assets of the AIADMK leader.
It had also asked whether the high court had "erred in law" by according benefit of doubt to Jayalalithaa in pursuance of a Supreme Court judgement holding that accused can be acquitted if his or her disproportionate assets were to the extent of ten per cent.
The special court had in 2014 held Jayalalithaa guilty of corruption and sentenced her to four years imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs 100 crore.