The Supreme Court today stayed a Madras High Court order directing Bengaluru jail authorities and the UIDAI to produce records containing the thumb impression of former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa. The high court, while dealing with an election petition, had on November 24 sought Jayalalithaa’s thumb impression details which is available with Bengaluru’s Parappana Agrahara Jail and the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). The former AIADMK chief had died on December 5 last year. The high court had asked the authorities to give the fingerprint details by today in a matter relating to an election petition filed by P Saravanan, a DMK candidate for the November 2016 Thirupparankundram Assembly bypoll, challenging the election of AIADMK’s A K Bose.
The matter came up for hearing today before a bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, which also issued notice to the petitioner before the high court and asked him to file a reply within eight weeks. The bench said there would be “stay of operation” on the high court’s order. Bose has moved the apex court against the high court’s direction claiming it intruded into the fundamental right to privacy. “Her death does not make any difference as right to privacy is available to every citizen during his/her life time and even after the death of that person,” the plea said. “The personal details of a third party which will undoubtedly include the finger print could not be divulged by the authorities holding the same without consent of the person to whom it belongs,” the plea claimed while seeking an ex- parte stay of the interim order of high court.
During the pendency of petition before the high court, Saravanan had filed an additional affidavit, questioning the validity of the election documents. He had alleged that thumb impression of Jayalalithaa was obtained without her consent and knowledge while she was unconscious, with the “connivance” of the doctors and others who were attending to the former chief minister. Jayalalithaa was lodged in the jail after her conviction in the Rs 65.66 crore disproportionate assets case in 2014. She had subsequently secured bail from the Supreme Court and was released on October 18, 2014, after spending 21 days in the prison.
The Karnataka High Court had later acquitted her and three of her associates of all charges, but the Supreme Court on February 14 this year had set aside the order. However, since Jayalalithaa died on December 5 last year, the apex court had abated the proceedings against her.