Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose:
1. That the Trial Court was meticulous, sensitive, vigilant and judicious in appraisal, stands authenticated by the fact that in valuing the assets, as warranted, it excluded a sum of Rs 32 lakh towards the price of sarees and further reduced the value of gold and diamond to the extent of Rs 2 crore. It also allowed the reduction in the marriage expenses by more than 50% and further discounted the value of constructions by permitting a depreciation of 20%.
2. The unimpeded, frequent and spontaneous inflow of funds from the account of A1 (Jayalalithaa) to those of the other-accused and the firms/companies involved, overwhelmingly demonstrate the collective culpable involvement of the respondents in the transactions in the face of their overall orientations so as to render the same to be masked banking exchanges though involving several accounts but mostly of the same bank. No other view is possible.
3. Noticeably, the respondents (accused) accepted all the findings of the High Court. We have analysed the evidence adduced by the parties and we come to the conclusion that A1 (Jayalalithaa) to A4 (J Ilavarasi) -- [A2 being VK Sasikala and A3 being VN Sudhakaran] -- have entered into a conspiracy and in furtherance of the same, A1 Jayalalithaa) who was a public servant at the relevant time had come into possession of assets disproportionate to the known sources of her income during the check period and had got the same dispersed in the names of A2 to A4 (Jayalalithaa, Sasikala, Sudhakaran and Ilavarasi) and the firms and companies involved to hold these on her behalf with a masked front. Furthermore, the charge of abetment laid against A2 to A4 in the commission of the offence by A1 also stands proved.
4. Therefore, we hold that as the sole public servant has died, being A1 (J Jayalalithaa) in this matter, in our opinion, though the appeals against her have abated, even then A2 to A4 are liable to be convicted and sentenced in the manner as has been held by the Trial Judge.
5. The Trial Court held that even private individuals could be prosecuted for the offence under Section 109 of I.P.C. and we find that the Trial Court was right in coming to the conclusion relying on the decision of Nallammal (supra), wherein it was observed that acquisition and possession by a public servant was capable of being abetted, and observed that Under Section 3 of the 1988 Act, the Special Judge had the power to try offences punishing even abetment or conspiracy of the offences mentioned in the PC Act and in our opinion, the Trial Court correctly held in this matter that private individuals can be prosecuted by the Court on the ground that they have abetted the act of criminal misconduct falling under Section 13(1)(e) of the 1988 Act committed by the public servant.
6. Furthermore, the reasoning given by the Trial Court in respect of criminal conspiracy and abetment, after scrutinizing the evidence of this case, is correct in the face of the overwhelming evidence indicating the circumstances of active abetment and conspiracy by A2 to A4 in the commission of the above offences under Section 13(1)(e) of the 1988 Act.
7. Accordingly, in view of the reasoning recorded hereinabove in the preceding paragraphs, we set aside the judgment and order of the High Court and affirm and restore the judgment of the Trial Court in toto against A2 to A4. However, though in the process of scrutiny of the facts and the law involved and the inextricable nexus of A1 with A2 to A4, reference to her role as well as the evidence pertaining to her had been made, she having expired meanwhile, the appeals, so far as those relate to her stand abated. Nevertheless, to reiterate, having regard to the fact that the charge framed against A2 to A4 is proved, the conviction and sentence recorded against them by the Trial Court is restored in full including the consequential directions.
8. Respondents A2 to A4, in view of this determination and the restoration of their conviction and sentence, would surrender before the Trial Court forthwith. The Trial Court is hereby also ordered to take immediate steps to ensure that the respondents A2 to A4 serve out the remainder of sentence awarded them and take further steps in compliance of this judgment, in accordance with law.
Justice Ranjan Gogoi:
1. A growing impression in contemporary existence seems to acknowledge the all-pervading pestilent presence of corruption almost in every walk of life as if to rest reconciled to the octopoid stranglehold of this malaise with help less awe. The common day experiences indeed do introduce one with unfailing regularity, the variegated cancerous concoctions of corruption with fearless impunity gnawing into the frame and fabric of the nation’s essentia. Emboldened by the lucrative yields of such malignant materialism, the perpetrators of this malady have tightened their noose on the societal psyche. Individual and collective pursuits with curative interventions at all levels are thus indispensable to deliver the civil order from the asphyxiating snare of this escalating venality.
2. Every citizen has to be a partner in this sacrosanct mission if we aspire for a stable, just and ideal social order as envisioned by our forefathers and fondly cherished by the numerous self-effacing crusaders of a free and independent Bharat, pledging their countless sacrifices and selfless commitments for such cause.