Jayalalithaa’s bail plea rejected, AIADMK stunned

Bangalore/Chennai (IANS): The Karnataka High Court Tuesday rejected the bail plea of jailed former Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalithaa, abruptly ending frenzied celebrations by her supporters after one of her lawyers earlier said she had got conditional bail.

Justice A.V. Chandrashekara, who heard Jayalalithaa’s petition, also declined to suspend her four-year jail term even after Special Public Prosecutor G. Bhavani Singh submitted he had no objection to her bail application.

The AIADMK leader was convicted and sentenced for four years and fined Rs.100 crore for corruption by a special court here Sep 27.

“No sufficient grounds for suspension of the sentence. The Supreme Court clearly indicated that corruption violates human rights and leads to economic imbalance,” the judge said in his interim order.

The judge also found no prime facie ground for granting bail to the 66-year-old Jayalalithaa.

Noted jurist Ram Jethmalani appeared for Jayalalithaa as defence counsel.

The bail petitions of Jayalalithaa’s associates – former close associate Sasikala Natarajan, estranged former foster son V.K. Sudhakaran and former aide J. Ilavarasi – were also rejected on the same grounds.

Earlier, in his 90-minute deposition, Jethmalani assured the judge that his client (Jayalalithaa) would abide by any condition put forth for bail, as she was a law abiding citizen and would not flee the country.

But this argument cut no ice with the judge.

A special court here Sep 27 convicted Jayalalithaa for corruption when she was chief minister in 1991-96 and jailed her for four years of simple imprisonment.

She was also fined Rs.100 crore under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The other three were also sentenced to four years in jail and fined Rs.10 crore each.

The bail petitions were posted for hearing by a regular bench Tuesday by a special bench of the high court Oct 1.

Meanwhile, fearing mass protests, police imposed a ban on the assembly of five or more people in a one-kilometer area around the high court here.

In Tamil Nadu, tens of thousands of Jayalalithaa supporters across the state erupted in joy after media outlets reported, on the strength of what an AIADMK lawyer had stated, that she had got conditional bail.

AIADMK members, legislators and MPs gathered in larger numbers at the party headquarters in Chennai and at AIADMK offices across the state danced, burst crackers and distributed sweets.

But the joyous scenes came to a grinding halt when it dawned that the “news” was wrong and that Jayalalithaa’s prayer for bail had actually been turned down.

The very same AIADMK activists — men and women — then turned emotive. Many women openly wailed. The celebrations turned into angry protests. Some were too stunned to speak.

As tensions rose, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O. Panneerselvan urged people to maintain calm and not to resort to any protests that would hurt the interests of ordinary citizens.

He also said that protests held by Jayalalithaa supporters should not be linked to the AIADMK government headed by him since her jailing.