AIADMK chief V K Sasikala’s hope of becoming chief minister of Tamil Nadu was shattered on Tuesday with the Supreme Court upholding her conviction in a corruption case, a verdict that bars her from contesting polls for nearly 10 years.
A close aide of late Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa, 60-year-old Sasikala, who is locked in a bitter struggle for power in the ruling AIADMK with Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, was ordered to surrender forthwith and serve the remaining part of her four-year jail term. The AIADMK general secretary has already served almost six months in jail.
In a keenly awaited verdict in the 19-year-old disproportionate assets case that also involved Jayalalithaa which will have a direct bearing on the political uncertainty that has gripped the state for the last 10 days, the court restored the judgement and the findings of the trial court in Bengaluru which held all the accused including Sasikala’s two relatives, V N Sudhakaran and Elavarasi guilty.
The two-judge bench comprising Justices P C Ghose and Amitava Roy directed Sasikala and the two relatives to surrender forthwith to the trial court in Bengaluru and serve the remaining part of four-year jail term.
The verdict disqualifies Sasikala from becoming a legislator and consequentially she can’t be chief minister either for six years from the date of release of prison under the Representation of the People Act.
Police presence was stepped up at a resort about 80 km from Chennai, where MLAs supporting Sasikala have been housed since the past few days. Sasikala herself stayed overnight at the resort.
The bench read the operative portion of the voluminous judgement saying that “according to the materials and evidence placed on record, we set aside the judgement and the order of the high court and affirm in toto the judgement and order the trial court convicting the accused persons,” the bench said.
“Since the charges framed by the trial court have been restored against all of them they will surrender forthwith before the trial court and serve the remaining part of the sentence,” it said.
The verdict came even as Panneerselvam won more support from party MPs and MLAs.
Jayalalithaa and three others were accused of allegedly amassing disproportionate asserts to the tune of Rs 66.65 crore during her first term as Chief Minister from 1991 to 1996.