Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, J. Jayalalithaa, is one of the most powerful and influential political leaders in India, especially the south. This is despite the existence of heavy corruption charges against her for nearly 2 decades.
Take a look at the 4 events that will help you understand the disproportionate asset case:
1. Amassing properties
Jayalalithaa has been convicted of amassing properties worth Rs. 66.65 crore and depositing the amount in her proxy accounts. The assets included 3000 acres of land property like farmhouses, bunglows, agriculture land, valuable jewellery, industrial sheds, and even a set of luxury cars.
The case has also accused her aide Sasikala Natarajan, her foster son Sudhakaran and Sasikala’s sister-in-law, Illavarasi for having opened over 32 benami shell companies. Some of these companies brought property of around Rs. 1 crore from Tamil Nadu Small Industries Corporation.
2. Misuse of office
Her first term as a chief minister was from 1991 to 1996 when she was accused of misusing the office powers. This came to the spotlight when a case was filed by the BJP leader Subramaniam Swamy in 1996.
In 1997, a raid was conducted at her residence by the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC), leading to the seizure of 800 kg silver, 28 kg gold, 10,000 sarees and 750 pairs of footwear, a c
hargesheet and accusations against her long-time supporters.
She was also accused of building and renovating three posh houses in major cities. However, she was still going scott free. But in 2003, the Supreme Court transferred the case to another state (Karnataka) to ensure a fair trial after the demand of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK).
3. Miscarriage of Justice
Earlier in 2001, she was forced to resign from her post of Chief Minister due to corruption charges. But within two months, the High Court acquitted her of the charges and she was back on the CM seat by 2002.
The whole resigning and comeback story repeated itself in 2014, too when she and other accused were convicted of the charges. Justice CR Kumaraswamy of the Karnataka High Court acquitted Jayalalithaa, and the three other accused in the case, on the grounds of lack of evidence. So, she took the oath as the CM for the fifth time in 2015.
However, the Karnataka government tried seeking to reverse this verdict. The Karnataka government stated that the acquittal was a “gross miscarriage of justice” and that it was illogical.
In 2017, the Supreme Court over-ruled the Karnataka High Court after Jayalalitha passed away in December 2016. The case against Jayalalithaa was abated because she had passed away but fines were levied on her properties. Section 394 of the Criminal Procedure Code mandates that all the appeals shall abate on the death of the accused.
On 14 February 2017, Sasikala and the others involved were convicted and sentenced to 4 years imprisonment, as well as fined ₹10 crore each. Moreover, Sasikala was barred from contesting elections for additional six years. K. Palaniswami, a Sasikala loyalist, is the current CM of Tamil Nadu and because of that the chances of her appealing for bail to the higher benches cannot be denied.