//Supreme Court pulls up Jayalalithaa

Supreme Court pulls up Jayalalithaa

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court pulled up Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa for not appearing for questioning in three income tax cases pending in a Chennai court since 1996.

A bench of judges BN Agrawal and AK Mathur told her counsel: "You (Jayalalithaa) are making a mockery of the judicial process."

Referring to the cases pending with the additional chief metropolitan court for economic offences at Egmore in Chennai, the judges said: "How long you can drag the proceedings? You must set an example to others by presenting yourself in the (trial) court for questioning under Section 313 CrPC (Criminal Procedure Code)."

Pointing to a letter by her counsel seeking an adjournment of six weeks for filing a counter, the bench said: "What counter-affidavit you can file in this matter? We want to pass an order today itself directing your client to be present in the (trial) court for questioning under section 313 CrPC."

However, the bench adjourned the proceedings to March 3, making it clear that it would pass appropriate orders on that day irrespective of whether or not a counter-affidavit was filed.

Additional Solicitor General R. Mohan, who represented the income tax department, told the court the matter was coming up for hearing after notice was issued in July 2005.

Income tax authorities launched criminal proceedings in 1996 and 1997 against Jayalalitha for not filing her income tax return for the assessment year 1993-94, though she had taxable income.

Subsequently, cases were launched against her associate Sasikala and Sasi Enterprises, in which both were partners, for not filing income tax returns even though they had taxable income.

The authorities alleged that a petition was filed before the trial court seeking the personal appearance of Jayalalitha and Sasikala for being questioned but both had not appeared and sought 42 adjournments during 2001-03.