Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa was on Saturday held guilty in a disproportionate assets case. A special court in Bangalore dealt a big blow to the AIADMK leader, who has become the first chief minister to be convicted in a wealth case and faces up to seven years’ jail term.
Pronouncing the order, special Judge John Michael Cunha held Jayalalithaa guilty of amassing wealth disproportionate to known sources of her income under Sections 109 and 120 (b) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, said Special Public Prosecutor G. Bhavani Singh. Her aide Sasikala and two others have also been convicted
While Jayalalitha faces seven-year jail term, the state is set to get a new chief minister with the incumbent leader expected to resign.
Senior BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, who had filed a petition in 1996 against her, told senior Headlines Today jounalist, Jayalalithaa, who had the best lawyers, “should know corruption doesn’t pay”. “The judge is very upright. We are fighting against corruption,” he said. CPI leader D. Raja told Headlines Today that Jayalalithaa will have to “step down”. He added though that there was no immediate threat to the government, it has to be seen who is going to be nominated the next leader. Organisation Secretary of DMK T.K.S. Elangovan said “justice was delayed, not denied”.
The Special Court judgement in the 18-year-old Rs.66.65-crore disproportionate assets case will have now huge ramifications on the state polity and her government. There was a report of stone-pelting at the Chennai residence of Swamy.
Earlier, there was media blackout in many parts of Tamil Nadu, while there was a power cut in many parts of Chennai.
As the charges were being read against all the accused, unprecedented security was put up around the DMK ministers’ residences in Chennai. Jayalalithaa’s supporters burnt the posters of DMK leaders and Swamy. The Tamil Nadu chief minister on Tuesday had filed two more defamation cases against Swamy for his comments on Twitter ridiculing her.
Reports said her supporters clashed with cops even as they were shown distributing sweets in anticipation of a win in the favour of their leader.
Amid palpable tension, the 65-year-old AIADMK chief set out from her Poes Garden residence in Chennai at 8.40 am towards the airport along with her close aide Sasikala Natarajan, another accused in the case, besides Ilavarasi and flew to Bangalore in a special aircraft. See Pictures
The three other accused are Jayalalithaa’s associate V.K. Sasikala, Sasikala’s nephew V. N. Sudhakaran and sister-in-law J. Illavarasi.
Special Court Judge Michael Dicunha will be delivering the verdict soon at the makeshift court created at Bangalore central prison at Parappana Agrahara on the outskirts of Bangalore city, which has been provided with multi-layer security cover.
The Bangalore city police have promulgated prohibitory orders under Section 144 of CrPC as a precautionary measure ahead of the court delivering its verdict.
The case was transferred to Bangalore’s Special Court in 2003 by the Supreme Court on a petition filed by DMK leader K. Anbazhagan, who had expressed doubts over conduct of fair trial in Tamil Nadu as Jayalalithaa ruled the state then.
“We have deployed about 2,000 security personnel in and around the central jail and about 5,000 additional forces have been positioned across the city to maintain law and order and ensure peace,” Additional Commissioner of Police Alok Kumar said.
Police have also installed CCTV cameras at vantage points in the area to check movement of people and vehicles towards the jail.
As a precautionary measure, inter-state bus services between Bangalore and Hosur across the border in Tamil Nadu have been suspended since 6am till late afternoon.