AIADMK chief V K Sasikala was today convicted in a corruption case by Supreme Court which dashed her ambition to become the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, as the verdict holding her guilty of entering into a conspiracy with late AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa would bar her from electoral politics for the next decade.
The apex court judgement, delivered at a time when the state is witnessing a bitter power struggle in the aftermath of Jayalalithaa’s demise, set aside the Karnataka High Court order acquitting all the four accused and “restored in toto” the trial court’s decision in the 19-year-old disproportionate assets case.
60-year-old Sasikala will now have to serve a jail term of around three-and-half years out of four years awarded by the trial court as she has already undergone almost six months in prison.
The special trial court had found disproportionate assets worth Rs 53.60 crore, which Jayalalithaa and the three others could not account for. The CBI had alleged that the unaccounted wealth was in the tune of Rs 66.65 crore.
The top court directed Sasikala and her two relatives — V N Sudhakaran, Jayalalithaa’s foster son, and Elavarasi, widow of Sasikala’s elder brother, to “forthwith surrender” before the Bengaluru’s trial court which will “take immediate steps” to ensure that all the three “serve out the remainder of sentence awarded to them and take further steps in compliance of this judgement, in accordance with law.”
Sasikala, the close aid and shadow of Jayalalithaa for almost three decades, was locked in a power struggle for the top post with acting Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, who was today sacked from AIADMK’s primary membership.
She had been in the jail in 1996 when the case was registered and later in 2014 after the Special trial court convicted and awarded a four-year sentence with a fine of Rs 10 crore. Jayalalithaa was then awarded four-year jail term, besides a fine of Rs 100 crore.
The apex court, which abated the proceedings against Jayalalithaa who breathed her last on December 5 last year, held that the criminal conspiracy was hatched at her Poes Garden residence in Chennai.
“The joint residence of all the accused persons also could not be ignored as a factor contributing to the charge of conspiracy and abetment when assessed together with the attendant facts and circumstances reinforcing the said imputations,” a bench comprising Justices P C Ghose and Amitava Roy said.
( Source – PTI )