It cannot be forgotten that when a public servant is charged with possessing assets disproportionate to her known sources of income and which she is unable to explain satisfactorily, the court must strictly go by the established quantum of wealth possessed, the expenditure incurred during a given period in office and the income known to have been received in the same period. This basically requires flawless computation and, where precise figures are unavailable, an objective means to evaluate the value of the assets. Any failure in making a precise computation will naturally result in a miscarriage of justice. By using different means, the prosecution, the defence and the two courts have so far arrived at different figures on income, expenditure and the consequent quantum of ‘disproportionate assets’. This fact also contributes to the need for a full re-examination. As for the political context, the appeal has been filed at a time when Ms. Jayalalithaa is contesting a by-election that will send her back to the Legislative Assembly. Karnataka has sought interim relief by way of a stay of the High Court judgment; if granted, this may have the effect of restoring Ms. Jayalalithaa’s disqualification from being a legislator. The stage is set for the last round of this 18-year-long legal battle. Ordinary citizens look to the Supreme Court for an authoritative pronouncement on this crucial matter of defining the dos and don’ts for persons in high public office.
Keywords: Jayalalithaa, disproportionate assets case, Jayalalithaa acquittal, Karnataka government