New Delhi, Oct 19: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa was today directed by the Supreme Court to appear in a Bangalore trial court tomorrow in a disproportionate assets case against her after Karnataka assured the apex court of her security.
Rejecting the AIADMK chief's plea to defer her hearing on the ground that the Karnataka government had failed to provide sufficient security, a bench of justices Dalveer Bhandari and Dipak Misra asked Jayalalithaa to appear in the Bangalore court as scheduled.
The apex court's order came after Karnataka's chief secretary and its director general of police both filed affidavits assuring the apex court of foolproof security measures in tune with her Z plus status and NSG cover.
The trial of the disproportionate assets case, allegedly involving accumulation of assets worth over Rs 66 crore by her between 1991 and 1996, was shifted earlier to Bangalore by the apex court on her fears that she might be denied a fair trial in Tamil Nadu due to state's erstwhile DMK government, which she had accused of implicating her in false cases.
When senior counsel Mukul Rohtagi persisted with his apprehensions over her safety, the bench remarked, “You are public figure. How can you remain away from people?” The bench also turned down Jayalalithaa's plea to at least shift the venue of her trial closer to the airport. “What more do you want? The helipad has been prepared.
Once the hearing is over, fly back home,” the bench observed. Jayalalithaa's counsel had earlier contended that venue of the trial court being 65 km away from the airport, her safety and security may be rendered more vulnerable. The apex court, however, was assured by both Karnataka government's counsel Anita Shenoy and Additional Solicitor General P P Malhotra that adequate security measures have been taken to protect Jayalalithaa.
But despite their assurances, Rohtagi submitted that the chief minister was “under a threat perception” and hence sought deferring of the hearing by at least a few days. He, however, failed to convince the apex court which said, “Please be reasonable. We are also concerned about the security. After these affidavits and the Supreme Court's directions, there cannot be any fears.”
The apex court reiterated that the state shall provide adequate security to Jayalalithaa from the time of her arrival till her departure to Tamil Nadu.
The Karnataka chief secretary and its police chief, earlier, in sworn affidavits faxed from Bangalore to the Supreme Court registry, explained the various steps taken by the state to provide security to Jayalalithaa right from her arrival till her departure.
The affidavits also said the state has no problem in ensuring security as it has been regularly ensuring the same to various national and international dignitaries visiting the state.
The affidavits also contradicted Jayalalithaa's claim that no prior intimation was provided to her either about the security arrangements or the venue for hearing. The affidavits said Karnataka was in constant touch with the Tamil Nadu's State Intelligence Bureau since September 24 on the issue.
The apex court earlier had asked the Karnataka government to explain steps taken to protect Jayalalithaa during her hearing in the trial court.
The apex court had on September 12 dismissed Jayalalithaa's plea for exemption from personal appearance owing to the perceived threat perception. Jayalalithaa in her fresh application has submitted that even the NSG which is normally given advance notice of the security arrangement made for the protectee has not been given any intimation on either the venue or the measures taken to protect her by the local police.
She had further submitted that she was apprehensive of a hostile atmosphere in Bangalore from organisations like the “Al Mun Thameen Force” which had vowed to avenge the killing of its cadre Imam Ali and others in an encounter with the Tamil Nadu police in Bangalore during 2002. Besides, she said there were a number of other threat perceptions to her.
“Grave prejudice and irreparable loss and hardship would be caused to the applicant if this application is not allowed,” the application stated.