The Supreme Court on Tuesday discharged Tamil Nadu Education Minister K.A. Sengottaiyan in a case in which late Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa was accused of accepting gifts and upheld a Madras High Court order.
A bench of Justice R. Banumathi and Justice A.S. Bopanna dismissed the appeal filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation challenging the High Court judgment of September 30, 2011.
The top court refused to interfere in the High Court order which set aside the case against Jayalalithaa and two others on the ground of inordinate and unexplained delay during both investigation and trial.
Besides Jayalalithaa, Sengottaiyan and former Minister A. Thirunavukkarasu were named as accused in the case.
The proceedings against Jayalalithaa and Thirunavukkarasu were dropped after they died during the pendency of the plea.
The bench said there was no point in interfering with the 2011 order as two of the accused has died.
In 2012, the Supreme Court had issued a notice to Jayalalithaa after the CBI said the High Court had committed a serious error in not considering various aspects of the case.
Jayalalithaa, who passed away in December 2016, had moved the Madras High Court seeking to quash the proceedings mainly on the ground of delay in registering the First Information Report and filing the chargesheet.
Jayalalithaa disclosed in her income tax returns that gifts including Demand Drafts and cash were given to her on her birthday in 1992, totalling Rs 2,09,50,012. However, the agency alleged that the genuineness of the gifts had not been proved.
The case was registered in 1996 and a chargesheet was filed in 2006 under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The other two accused were chargsheeted for abetting her to accept the valuables.
The CBI said that delays happened due to administrative and procedural reasons and "merely because there is a delay, there is no prerogative right conferred on the petitioners (Jayalalitha) to seek the relief of quashing and discharge".
The CBI contended that though the offence occurred in 1992, it came to the notice of the Income Tax department only in 1996 and was duly communicated to the Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary for taking action.
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