Barely an hour after a portrait of late AIADMK leader J Jayalalithaa was on Monday unveiled in the Tamil Nadu Assembly by Speaker P Dhanapal, the opposition DMK moved the Madras High Court seeking its removal on the grounds that she was found guilty on corruption charges.
When the first bench of Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice Abdul Quddhose commenced proceedings on Monday at about 10.30 am, DMK's counsel P Wilson made an urgent mention and requested the court to take up the plea.
However, noting that the bench has to hear a plea moved by Congress leader P Chidambaram's son Karti Chidambaram challenging the lookout notice issued by the CBI, as per the direction of the Supreme Court, the bench said that it would take up the DMK's plea on Tuesday.
According to the petitioner, Jayalalithaa was convicted by a special court on graft charges. Later the same was set aside by the Karnataka high court and on appeal, the Supreme Court found all the accused guilty of the charges. In view of her demise, appeals against Jayalalithaa were treated as abated, the petitioner said.
At the same time, the co-accused were convicted; sentenced to four years imprisonment and properties belonging to them were ordered to be attached, the DMK counsel said.
In such circumstances, the DMK has already filed a plea in the high court seeking removal of photos and the name of Jayalalithaa displayed and mentioned in government offices, buildings, public sector undertakings and government schemes by the state government that is still pending in court, the petitioner submitted.
The plea alleged that the Speaker has "arbitrarily" taken a decision on February 10 to unveil a portrait of Jayalalithaa in the assembly hall today in the presence of the chief minister and the deputy chief minister.
The seven-ft high portrait was successfully unveiled this morning, the petitioner said.
The decision of the speaker was unconstitutional, tainted with illegality, besides highly arbitrary, unreasonable and reeks of malice in law, the petitioner's counsel said.
"It is antithetical to standards of morality and probity enshrined in our Constitution and expounded by the Supreme Court of India from time to time," the counsel said.
"The intention of the then Speakers to display photographs.. inside the Assembly was to serve as an example and reminder to all the members of the august assembly that the elected representatives should live and conduct themselves like these leaders whose life is an example of the highest standards of public life," the petitioner submitted.
"It could never have been the intention of the then speakers to hang portraits of convicts, culprits or persons convicted of offences involving moral turpitude like corruption," the petitioner said.
The plea urged the court to grant interim direction directing the authorities to forthwith remove the portrait of Jayalalithaa from the precincts of the assembly, pending disposal of the above plea.