The Supreme Court today pulled up Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa for filing four nominations during the 2001 Assembly polls.
"You had held top post in the state and held post only below to his excellency. You are a public figure in the state and you run a party. How can you do this?" a Bench of Justices H L Dattu and C K Prasad said while hearing a plea of the AIADMK chief seeking quashing of criminal proceedings against her for filing four nominations.
She had approached the apex court challenging Madras High Court's order directing the Election Commission to register a case against her in a magistrate court but the proceedings were stayed by the Supreme Court in July 2007.
The apex court also criticised the Returning Officer(RO) of the Election Commission for not initiating proceedings against her after she filed multiple nomination papers.
"Here is the Returning Officer who wanted to tow the line of this lady," the bench observed.
The bench also said that the High Court was not right in directing the Election Commission to register the case and it should have just directed the RO to re-examine the issue.
Senior advocate U U Lalit, appearing for the Chief Minister, submitted there was no suppression of facts on her part and she had revealed all informations in her nomination paper.
The court, however, did not seem convinced which said non-suppression of facts might be a mitigating factor for awarding lesser punishment.
"It may be a mitigating factor for awarding lesser punishment for you and not to award maximum punishment or no punishment. But the question is should we interfere at the threshold level," the bench said.
Jayalalithaa had filed nominations in Andipatti, Krishnagiri, Bhuvanagiri and Pudukottai constituencies. All were rejected as she had been disqualified from contesting the polls at that time following conviction in the TANSI land deal case.
A former former DMK MP C Kuppusamy had filed a petition in the High Court against her. The High Court had in June 2007 directed the Election Commission to register a case against her but the order was stayed by the Supreme Court in July 2007.
The High Court had held that Jayalalithaa's declaration in the third (Bhuvanagiri) and fourth (Pudukottai) constituencies that she had not been nominated from more than two segments was "false to her own knowledge and amounts to violation of Section 33(7) (b) of the Representation of the People Act (under this provision a candidate cannot contest from more than two constituencies)".