Supreme Court verdict: Jayalalithaa illegal assets case returns to haunt CM candidate Sasikala, upsetting her plans!
-Dr. Abdul Ruff
The power hungry Sasikala is bent upon becoming the CM of Tamil Nadu even if that ends in a day or two. She is eager to be known as former CM of TN as CM Panneerselvam is slowly gaining ground with support pouring in from AIADMK members, workers and general public.
Reports suggest the Supreme Court of India would deliver its final judgment on the disproportionate assets case of former CM Jayalalithaa and Sasikala et al on Friday the February 10. The judgment has been ready for months but has been reserved for quite some time. Whether Sasikala, claiming to be the heir to Jayalalithaa, would also be punished for the crimes of Jayalalithaa as well remains to be seen.
Sasikala has been showing indecent haste in occupying the Jayalalithaa’s CM seat by removing O. Panneerselvam though Jayalalithaa had always chose him to be the acting CM and never even mentioned her name to take the seat after her death.
Clearly Jayalalithaa considered Sasikala an embarrassment rather than an asset and hence she never entrusted with any political and or administrative government positions.
Clearly, Sasikala who controlled Jayalalithaa’s final case in the Apollo Hospital where he was declared dead after nearly two months of “unsuccessful” treatment, has manipulated the pains and uncertainty of Tamils after Jayalalithaa’s death to control both the ruling party and government saying only she can replace Jayalalithaa.
However, Sasikala’s onward march towards Madras Fort was challenged by the successful uprising of Tamil youth in a peaceful manner who fought a valiant struggle to get Jallikattu reinstated by the state and central government and Panneerselvam is seen as the winner. Sasikala is obviously annoyed.
Panneerselvam should have woken up a bit early so that Sasikala would not have gone too far with her secret agenda. However, , as people say, better late than never!
The Supreme Court is expected to pronounce within a day or so its judgment in the high-profile disproportionate assets case against former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, who died last year.
Among the other accused in the case is current AIADMK chief VK Sasikala, who is now set to be the next Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.
The apex court will decide on Karnataka government’s pleas challenging the acquittal of the two leaders in the assets case.
The Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose said ‘Wait till next week’ – as senior counsel Dushyant Dave appearing for Karnataka said that the main accused has already passed away and Sasikala is expected to become Chief Minister soon.
The top court had reserved its verdict on the Karnataka government’s appeal a few months ago. Jayalalithaa was booked under the Prevention of Corruption Act in 1996 for allegedly amassing unaccounted wealth worth nearly Rs 67 crores.
In 2015, the Congress government in Karnataka had moved the Supreme Court after the Karnataka High Court acquitted her in the case.
A year ago in 2014, a special Bengaluru court had found Jayalalithaa guilty and sentenced her to four years in jail along with close aide Sasikala.
Can Sasikala with huge assets love poor Tamils?
No one thinks she can help people, let alone poor but of course she know whom to promote and who should be helped to loot the state resources.
Sasikala was nowhere in the Tamil Nadu picture until Jayalalithaa died. But she work secretly to control party and government and oust Panneerselvam form the Madras Fore and occupy it along with Jaya’s Poes garden.
Sasikala has made huge money and wealth under the shadow of CM Jayalalithaa who was also busy making illegal wealth by immoral means reports say Sasikala has shares in at least 27 big companies and she has illegal assets too.
With rumours of Jayalalithaa already naming her successor in her will, speculations about her legacy are ripe. The CM who took ₹1 per month had an asset of more than 100 crores as per her election declaration in 2015. Have a look at the details of property -movable as well as immovable- owned by Jayalalithaa
The most powerful leader of Tamil Nadu, J Jayalalithaa is no more. The entire Tamil Nadu is mourning her death as she was popular with her people-friendly programmes throughout her political career of over three decades. Now, who will take care of her legacy worth ₹11.373 crore?
In the month of April 2015, Jayalalithaa had declared the details of her movable and immovable properties worth ₹113.73 crore. Out of this, movable properties are worth ₹41.63 crore, and immovable properties are worth ₹72.09 crore. This declaration was submitted to the election commission while she was contesting the Assembly election from Dr Radhakrishnan Nagar constituency, North Chennai.
As per her declaration she had ₹41,000 cash currency when she declared her property details. Besides she had declared she had ₹2.04 crore annual income from agriculture and other sources.
Jayalalithaa had share investments to the tune of crores of rupees. But in the declaration, she had not mentioned the amount. A case was filed against her in Bengaluru Special court in 2004 for hoarding illegal property. Referring to this, she has said in the declaration that the Karnataka Police has confiscated all the share certificates, bonds and documents related to her investments.
Jayalalithaa owned 2 Toyota Prado SUV cars, each cost above ₹40 lakh. She also owned a Tempo Traveler, a Tempo Trax, a Mahindra jeep, an Ambassador car of 1980 model, a Mahindra Bolero, a Swaraj Mazda of 1990 model and a Contessa car.
Jayalalithaa hoarded 21.280 kg gold jewellery, 1,250 kg silver articles. But all her bullion were confiscated during the trial by Bengaluru Special Court. Currently, her bullion is in the Karnataka Treasury. Her declaration also said that the trial was going on in the Supreme Court.
‘Veda Nilayam’ is Jayalalithaa’s private residence, located at Poes Garden in Chennai. The mansion is built on a plot measuring 24,000 sqft, with a carpet area measuring 21,662 sqft. The value of the house is estimated at ₹43.96 crore. In the affidavit, she has said that the plot was purchased by her mother in 1967 for ₹1.32 lakh. Besides, she owned an agricultural farm land of 14.50 acre in Jedimetla village, Rangareddy District in Telangana state and 3.43 acres of farm land in Cheyyur village of Tamil Nadu. The farmland located in Telangana was purchased in 1968, and Cheyyuru farm land was purchased in 1981. She also owns four commercial complexes in Hyderabad.
She had a partnership in five prime companies (Sri Jaya Publications, Shashi Enterprises, Kodanad Estate, Royal Valley Floritech Exports and Green Tea estate) and had invested an amount of ₹27.44 crore. She has also declared that she doesn’t have any investments in NSC, post office or life Insurance.
Jayalalithaa has not left a will behind and now a big question looms over her property. Who will inherit Jaya’s 24,000 sqft bungalow, for example?
For years, Number 81, Veda Nilayam, Poes Garden has stoically stood the test of time and silently sheltered to its once most powerful occupant – Jayalalithaa. Now with her demise, soon this property is bound to get into a legal mess. ‘Veda Nilayam’ for several decades has remained Jayalalithaa’s private residence, located at Poes Garden in Chennai. The mansion is built on a plot measuring 24,000 sqft, with a carpet area measuring 21,662 sqft. Local real estate experts claim that the property is now worth ₹90-crores. The plot was purchased by Jaya’s mother Sandhya in 1967 for ₹1.32 lakh. Jayalalithaa named the property ‘Veda Nilayam’ as a tribute to her mother – (Vedavalli alias Sandhya).
Now with her demise, these are few of the scenarios that could play out:
- There is a possibility that Jayalalithaa has left behind a will, and if so, in all likelihood, Veda Nilayam would go to her close-aide and confidente – Sasikalaa.
- Amma’s niece Deepa Jayakumar and her brother Dipak can stake a claim on the property as the house was originally bought by Jaya’s mother Sandhya, their grandmother.
- Another possibilty is that the history will repeat itself as is the case with the properties belonging to Jaya’s mentor M G Ramachandran, whose house in Ramapuram, Chennai even after decades still remains entangled in legal dispute.
- Sasikalaa headed back to Veda Nilayam post Amma’s funeral, which also suggests that Sasikalaa still intends to stay there and take care of the household things like she always did.
A special court had already attached her property (except for some inherited jewellery and bungalow at Poes Garden) into the disproportionate assets case. It was a well known “secret” that Jayalalithaa had amassed huge wealth and bank balance during her three decades long political career. It was revealed that she had massive deposits of approx ₹10.63 crore and 1,250 kg of silver in various banks.
Politics and wealth
Hectic parleys are on within Poes Garden, home of former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa. Her confidante, aide and whom she often referred to as her ‘sister’ – Sasikala Natarajan – continues to live in ‘Veda Nilayam’, Jayalalithaa’s home, summoning Ministers for meetings and according to sources, lobbying for the top spot in the ruling party – the post of General Secretary of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK). Since the party’s inception in 1972, the post of General Secretary has been held by two people – founder and former Chief Minister MG Ramachandran and thereafter by Jayalalithaa.
But as Sasikala marches on to fulfill her political ambition, a Damocles’ sword continues to hang over her head – that of the Rs 58 crore Disproportionate Assets case currently awaiting orders on appeal in the Supreme Court.
Special Public Prosecutor for the Karnataka government, BV Acharya, who is trying the case, said that the case against Sasikala, her sister in law Ilavarasi and nephew VN Sudhakaran is very much alive, despite the abatement of charges against prime accused Jayalalithaa who is no more. “The case will survive,” he said. “There is a charge of conspiracy too in this case. Only the appeal against Jayalalithaa will abate. Arguments are over and the case is posted for judgment. There can be no abatement of charges once the case is posted for judgment. The court has to give a verdict,” he said.
The Disproportionate Assets case, commonly known as the DA case, is 19 years old. In 1996, the then Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) government slapped cases on rival Jayalalithaa and four others, accusing them of holding disproportionate assets to the tune of Rs 66 crores. In 2014, a special court trying the case in Bengaluru convicted all four of possessing unexplained wealth and sentenced them to four years of jail time each, along with a Rs 100 crore fine. Jayalalithaa, Sasikala and the other two accused spent 21 days in jail, subsequently coming out on bail. On appeal in the Karnataka High Court, the trial court’s verdict was overturned – all four were acquitted. The Karnataka government, which took over the role of prosecutor once the case was shifted to Bengaluru, appealed in the apex court. Orders were reserved by Justices PC Ghose and Amitava Roy in June this year. “It is not just about the Prevention of Corruption Act,” explained Acharya. “The charge of conspiracy is independent. Even if one conspirator dies, the case will go on,” he said.
Senior lawyers also point to a 2014 judgment delivered by the Supreme Court which they say has cleared up the legal point on this issue. They refer to the case of State of New Delhi represented by the CBI versus Jitender Singh, in which Justices Radhakrishnan and AK Sikri ruled that a special court set up to try a specific case or cases, can go on to try the other accused, even if the prime accused died during the trial. “We can visualize a situation where a public servant dies at the fag end of the trial, by that time, several witnesses might have been examined and to hold that the entire trial would be vitiated due to death of a sole public servant would defeat the entire object and purpose of the PC Act, which is enacted for effective combating of corruption and to expedite cases related to corruption and bribery,” says the order. “
The purpose of the PC Act is to make anti-corruption laws more effective in order to expedite the proceedings, provisions for day-to-day trial of cases, transparency with regard to grant of stay and exercise of powers of revision on interlocutory orders Page 36 36 have also been provided under the PC Act. Consequently, once the power has been exercised by the Special Judge under sub-section (3) of Section 4 of the PC Act to proceed against non-PC offences along with PC offences, the mere fact that the sole public servant dies after the exercise of powers under sub-section (3) of Section 4, will not divest the jurisdiction of the Special Judge or vitiate the proceedings pending before him.”
“The Supreme Court has already settled this,” said senior lawyer KM Vijayan. “If A1 is under PC (Prevention of Corruption) Act but other accused are under a non-PC Act and if the case is tried by Special Court – the court is not restricted in respect of PC Act alone. There is a special provision for Special Courts to try non-PC Acts along with the PC Act. The Supreme Court has said in this judgment that in such cases even if A1 dies, the cases against A2, A3 and A4 will not abate,” he stated. “Now Supreme Court can say that the case can be heard afresh against A2, A3 and A4 but the case will definitely not abate with the death of a public servant,” he added.
The charges may not abate against the others but the charges can be dismissed against the other accused due to the nature of this case,” said advocate Tulsi. The reason for this, according to him, is the fact that the prime accused, Jayalalithaa, was a public servant and the whole case surrounded the corruption allegations and conspiracy with the public servant to amass wealth illegally. “The public servant was the former Chief Minister,” he said. “Now that the public servant is not available any longer, once the appeal against Jaya abates, the others cannot be prosecuted.”
When queried about the 2014 judgment in Jitender Singh by the Supreme Court, Tulsi said that that would hold good only in two instances – 1) when the family of the deceased wants the appeal to go on in order to remove the blot on the name of the prime accused or 2) if property is involved and there is a dispute over it by legal heirs, which would mean that the property would get stuck. “But in this case, there is no heir. I don’t think the political party will bother with continuing the appeal in order to clear her name or any such thing. So the other accused may well be discharged,” he said.
Will the death of Jayalalithaa bring legal relief for Sasikala who was staring at the possibility of four years in jail?
This case, which haunted Jayalalithaa for the most part of her political career, is likely to be top of mind for Sasikala as well as other leaders of the ruling party. As negotiations and power tussles play out within Poes Garden, the wheels of justice turn ever so slowly.
One wonders if a close friend Sasikala, among others who used her for their own upward move financially and economically, had misled Jayalalithaa to make illegal wealth for private use.
Death of Jayalalithaa has created a vacuum not only in the party but also in the minds of party people who cannot imagine a party of government without Jayalalithaa. . Sasikala is very cleverly exploiting the mindset of AIADMK people who are scared of DMK return to power if AIADMK splits and she has given the impression that she is only person to keep the DMK at boy for years.
Sasikala has enough resources form all possible sources and can enjoy life lavishly. She should allow Pannerselvam to reassume power as Cm while shoe should try to get herself elected as General Secretary of AIADMK through proper channel – by holding party elections at grass root level upward to GS post.
Sasikala is occupying Poes garden house of Jayalalalithaa and refuses details about Jayalalithaa’s sudden death in her presence.
CM Panneerselvam demands Jayalalithaa’s house at Poes garden be converted not a memorial but Sasikala wants to own that.