Jayalalithaa and Sasikala draped in expensive sarees and laden with ornaments. Source: courtesy: Nakkeeran Jayalalithaa and Sasikala draped in expensive sarees and laden with ornaments. Source: courtesy: Nakkeeran
Written by Arun Janardhanan | Chennai | Posted: September 29, 2014 2:25 am | Updated: September 29, 2014 10:30 am
Opponents of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa believe that they stand vindicated after a Bangalore court in an 18-year-old case sentenced the her to four years in prison and imposed a fine of Rs 100 crore for illegally accumulating assets worth Rs 66.05 crore.
The verdict also has a crushing impact on her political career as Jayalalithaa, 66, would have to resign as Chief Minister because she stands disqualified as a legislator. The Supreme Court had ruled last year a convicted lawmaker cannot continue as MP or MLA, and shall be disqualified from office.
The disproportionate assets case was filed by Subramanian Swamy, then Janata Party leader, and an FIR in this regard was registered in September 1996. The chargesheet filed under the Prevention of Corruption Act said Jayalalithaa, her former aide Sasikala, the latter’s sister-in-law Ilavarasi and Jayalalithaa’s foster son Sudhakaran had purchased over 32 shell companies, some benamis, and that all but the AIADMK chief had been made directors of several of these firms.
Looking at the enormity of unusually huge money transactions, the chargesheet said crores of rupees — deposited through cash, cheques and demand drafts into the company accounts — were later routed into accounts registered in the name of Namadu MGR, a publication run by AIADMK, and a cable company. An insider, who worked at Poes Garden and used to run the errand of depositing money in different accounts, was one of the main witnesses in the case.
More than Rs 6 crore allegedly spent on the luxurious wedding of Jayalalithaa’s foster son Sudhakaran, two posh residences built by her — at Kodanadu in Ooty and Siruthavur near Kancheepuram — and a large sum spent on the maintenance of her Poes Garden residence in Chennai were included in her accumulation of assets. Many trace the beginning of the case to the raid on Poes Garden residence in December 1996.
The seized items, now under the custody of the Bangalore special court, included documents of properties worth over Rs 58 crore, nearly 30 kg gold including 400 pairs of bangles, a 1.5 kg diamond-studded gold waist belt, 500 kg silver, 10,000 sarees, 750 pairs of footwear and over 100 wrist watches.
The next few years were tough for Jayalalithaa with several other cases being slapped on her by the DMK government, including colour TV Scam, sanction to Pleasant Stay Hotel, TANSI property deal and coal case. She was convicted and later acquitted by the higher court in three of these cases, but the assets case continued to get delayed.
After AIADMK returned to power in 2001, it was alleged that Jayalalithaa was misusing the CM’s office to subvert justice in the assets case. The case was then transferred to the Bangalore special court by the Supreme Court in 2003