The revelation made by Special Public Prosecutor B.V. Acharya in the Jayalalithaa disproportionate assets case that a “glaring arithmetical error” by the Karnataka High Court in computing the loans taken from banks by AIADMK general secretary and former Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalithaa, her aides and their firms were responsible for their acquittals is shocking in the extreme.
It is difficult to believe that such an ‘error’ which completely turned the verdict on its head can be made by so exalted a forum as a high court. But mistakes can occur in any field but if so they must be corrected forthwith.
According to Acharya, “if the calculation error is removed even if other evidence is not taken into consideration, all the accused could be convicted.”
The acquittals were premised on a Supreme Court judgment that disproportionate assets less than 10 per cent of the known income are permissible, says the special public prosecutor.
He adds that if the mathematical error is set right, then the quantum of disproportionate assets attributed to Jayalalithaa would be in excess of 76 per cent of her known sources of income, and not 8.12 per cent, the figure arrived at by Justice C.R. Kumaraswamy of the High Court.
This matter ought to be taken up by the High Court without further loss of time so that if there is indeed a miscarriage of justice on account of the error it must be corrected forthwith.
It is now for the court to get to the root of it and correct the ‘mistake’ if it indeed is proved as a mistake. The manner in which this is to be done will need to be determined by the high court or failing that the Supreme Court because now that doubts have been raised about the correctness of the judgement there must be an expeditious bid to reverse the wrongs done.
It would arguably not meet the ends of justice if the error is taken up when the normal appeal against the judgement is heard.