Jayalalithaa assets case verdict likely on Saturday

Jayalalithaa may nominate another leader from her party as Tamil Nadu CM till supreme court clears her of all charges, say observers

shivani

Shivani Chaturvedi | September 23, 2014 | Chennai


Case pertains to Jaya`s first tenure as CM from 1991 to 1996, when she allegedly accrued assets worth Rs 65.86 crore that were disproportionate to her known sources of income.
PIB/ file photo

September 27, 2014 is a crucial date for Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa and, consequently, the state.

On the day, a special court in Bangalore is set to give its verdict in the 1997 disproportionate assets case against the AIADMK supremo. All political parties watch the development with keen interest. In case of an adverse outcome, which is likely, ‘the Godmother’ of Tamil Nadu will lose her chief ministership as well as membership of the legislature. She might be further disqualified from contesting an election for six years unless the conviction is stayed or set aside by a superior court.

According to news reports, Jayalalithaa called a crucial cabinet meeting on September 23 to decide on the future course for her party. Other reports said she might resign before appearing in court and that either of her trusted aide O Paneerselvam, state electricity minister Natham R Viswanathan and urban development minister R Vaithilingam, could be trusted with chief ministership.

Political observers say if she is sentenced like it is expected, Jayalalithaa may nominate anyone from her party as the chief minister till the apex court clears her of all charges.

The case pertains to Jayalalithaa’s first tenure as chief minister of Tamil Nadu from 1991 to 1996, when she allegedly accrued assets worth Rs 65.86 crore that were disproportionate to her known sources of income. She failed to give an account for them and a substantial portion of these assets was held by other accused on her behalf. Incidentally, she was drawing a token salary of Re 1 per month at that time.

The case was registered in 1997 when the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) was in power in Tamil Nadu. The Supreme Court in 2003 transferred the trial to Bangalore following a petition by DMK leader K Anbazhagan. The apex court had held that fair trial was not possible in the Chennai court while noticing the conduct of the public prosecutor and other developments that took place after Jayalalithaa assumed the post of chief minister in 2002.

The disproportionate assets case has been dragged for 18 years by Jayalalithaa seeking more than 300 adjournments in trail courts in Chennai and Bangalore and appeals to Madras and Karnataka high courts and also in the supreme court on some or the other grounds, said an opposition leader. But whatever may be the outcome it won’t affect Jayalalithaa’s power as the party leader. There is nobody to question her in the ruling party, he added. Moreover, Jayalalithaa has waged many legal battles in the past she would have chalked out plan B to face any such crisis.

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