The Madras High Court division bench of Justice M.M. Sundresh and Justice C. Saravanan on Friday admitted a batch of four petitions filed by former AIADMK leader V. K Sasikala along with her relative V Bhaskaran against refusal order of an Appellate Tribunal for Foreign Exchange Regulation Act (FERA) cases. Sasikala approached Court seeking restoration of her appeal for rehearing by the tribunal.
The Court issued a notice to the prosecuting agency and asked Hema Babu, Special Public Prosecutor for the Director of Enforcement Directorate (ED) cases to accept the notice on behalf of the agency. The Court further directed him to file counter-affidavits in response to Sasikala's plea within two weeks.
As per the facts, Sasikala was levied with a penalty of Rs. 18 crore by the Adjudicatory authority for allegedly violating foreign exchange rules in the years 2008 and 2009 with regard to the import of transponders for a now-defunct television channel named JJ TV. Sasikala was the chairperson of the JJ TV amid 1991 and 1996 and Bhaskaran was its managing director.
However, the appeals against the adjudicatory authority's order were filed after a lapse of 9 years in 2017, which was declined by the appellate tribunal, refusing to condone the delay of more than 8 years.
The Appellate Tribunal had pointed out that the period provided for filing of statutory appeals from the date of receipt of a copy of the adjudicating authority’s order has lapsed years ago, and further noted that the appellant has also failed to satisfy the court on the reasons which led to such a long delay in filling the said appeal.
Rejecting Sasikala's argument that she came to know about the adjudicating authority’s orders only during her jail term at the Parappana Aggrahara prison, where she has been lodged since February 2017 in connection with a disproportionate assets case, the Bench said that this was not an acceptable reason to compel the court to condone the delay and accept her appeal.
It was further observed that the adjudicatory authority’s orders were also posted on her last known addresses at East Abhiramapuram and T. Nagar and they were also served on the advocates representing her, therefore, negated her contention that she didn't know of the order until 2017.
However, senior counsel B. Kumar appearing for Sasikala contended that the serving of orders on the advocates could not be termed as having been served on ‘authorised persons’ and the appeals were liable to be accepted.