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Supreme Court grants interim bail to Jayalalithaa, other accused
18-10-2014

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday granted interim bail to former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, jailed for last 20 days after her conviction in a corruption case.

A bench led by Chief Justice HL Dattu allowed arguments by her counsel Fali S Nariman, who said Jayalalithaa’s sentences should be suspended pending her appeal.

The bench, while also granting bail to other accused in the case, asked all of them to ready their appeals against the conviction within two months and posted the case for hearing on December 18.

The bench said it would consider issuing necessary direction to the Karnataka High Court for expeditiously deciding the batch of appeals on December 18. It also made it clear that the period of interim bail would not be extended even for a day if the appeals are not ready.

Nariman also assured the bench that Jayalalithaa would ask her party workers to abstain from indulging in any form of lawlessness in protest of her conviction. The court order ensures Jayalalithaa celebrates Diwali outside prison since the court is slated to go on a vacation for the festival from October 18 to 26.

She had moved the court last week against the Karnataka High Court’s dismissal of her bail plea. In her bail petition, Jayalalithaa has also sought suspension of her four-year-jail term in the case, besides urging the medical grounds for her entitlement to the relief.

Jayalalithaa was convicted by a special court in Karnataka for amassing assets disproportionate to the known sources of her income. In the wake of her conviction, she was automatically disqualified as a MLA and also had to step down as the Chief Minister in the middle of her third term in the chair. She handpicked party loyalist O Panneerselvam to fill in for her as Chief Minister.

The case against her accuses Jayalalithaa of using her first term as chief Minister from 1991 to 1996 to accumulate vast wealth. Jayalalithaa however claimed she was a victim of political vendetta by rival party, the DMK, which pursued the case.

Assembly elections are due in the state in 2016 and unless her conviction is stayed or set aside, Jayalalithaa will not be able to contest.