Not to Tamil Nadu CM office, Sasikala to go jail

NEW DELHI: Long-time Jayalalithaa aide Sasikala’s conviction was upheld today in the disproportionate assets case by a Supreme Court bench, nixing any possibility of her becoming Tamil Nadu chief minister.

She and the other accused will be soon taken into custody for serving out the remaining four years of her sentence. They will also have to pay a fine of Rs 10 crore each.

The verdict disqualifies Sasikala from becoming a legislator, and consequentially she can’t be chief minister either. This also gives caretaker Tamil Nadu CM O Panneerselvam a huge boost in staking claim to be the legitimate successor to Jayalalithaa, who passed away in December. Sasikala had staked the claim to be Tamil Nadu chief minister over Panneerselvam.

“Amma’s purity destroyed by traitors”, tweeted the AIADMK in Tamil.

Late Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa was also named in the lawsuit, but the case against her stands abated with her demise.

A case was filed in 1996 against late Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa, following a complaint by now BJP MP Subramanian Swamy, that she had assets disproportionate to her known sources of income.

“I was expecting the conviction. I don’t think she can escape the 4 years sentence,” Swamy told ANI after the conviction was upheld.

The two separate judgements were today delivered by a two-judge Supreme Court bench comprising Justices Amitava Roy and Pinaki Chandra Ghosh. Justice Ghosh authored the main judgment that ran into around a thousand pages. He himself described it as “fatty judgment”. Justice Roy wrote a separate “thin” concurring judgment.

The legal proceedings in the DA case against Jayalalithaa and Sasikala go back two decades. The apex court had transferred the trial to Bengaluru after a DMK member, K Anbazaghan, moved court alleging that the trial may not be free and fair if it continued in Chennai when the main accused was chief minister.

The Bengaluru trial court convicted Jayalalithaa on September 27, 2014, and awarded her four years imprisonment along with Rs 100 crore fine, with Rs 10 crore fine on the other three. The conviction disqualified her as an MLA requiring her to step down as CM. But she returned as CM after Karnataka HC on May 11, 2015 acquitted her, Sasikala and the others in the DA case.