Chennai: In a big blow to Tamil Nadu chief minister and AIADMK general secretary J. Jayalalithaa, a special court in Bangalore sentenced her to four years in prison and fined Rs.100 crore in a disproportionate assets case on Saturday.
Special judge John Michael D'Cunha also sentenced the three other accused, including close friend Sasikala Natarajan, Sasikala’s niece Ilavarasi and nephew Sudhakaran, who is the ‘disowned’ foster son of Jayalalithaa in this case, initiated by Dr Subramanian Swamy and actively pursued by the rival DMK party since 1996. The allegation is that Jayalalithaa had amassed wealth valued at about Rs.66.65 crore in her name and in the names of the three others, which was disproportionate to her known source of income.
The court verdict would mean that Jayalalithaa immediately ceased to be the chief minister and her cabinet would stand dissolved. The state administration has come under the control of chief secretary Mohan Verghese Chunkath, who would report to state Governor K. Rosaiah. Jayalalithaa also stands disqualified as MLA. Now the AIADMK legislature party will have to elect a new leader and intimate to the Governor for the swearing-in of a new CM and Cabinet.
Jayalalithaa had met senior minister O. Panneerselvam twice during the breaks in the court proceedings, when she could have conveyed her choice of successor.
The AIADMK will elect its new legislature party leader on Sunday. The AIADMK legislature party is meeting at the party headquarters in Chennai to elect the next chief minister, who is likely to be sworn in the same day.
DMK general secretary K. Anbazhagan had moved Supreme Court in 2003 to transfer the case out of Tamil Nadu expressing apprehension that it would not be conducted properly since Jayalalithaa ruled the state then. The Apex Court shifted the case to Bangalore and a special court was set up to conduct the trial.
“I have issued instructions to the chief secretary and the director general of police to ensure that law and order is maintained in the state and there is all-round peace”, Governor Rosaiah told Deccan Chronicle. He said he was closely monitoring the situation.
The prolonged trial saw five judges - A S Pachapure, A T Munoli, B M Mallikarjunaiah, M S Balakrishna and John Michael D'Cunha.
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 with Jayalalithaa as Chief Minister.
Security has been increased at the DMK headquarters and residences of its senior leaders. Police said that on a request from DMK, security had been increased at "Anna Arivalayam", the headquarters of DMK, two residences of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK President M Karunanidhi and the residence of Anbazhagan, party's general secretary.
Appearing before the court four times, Jayalalithaa has answered 1,339 questions in closed door hearings during which she has maintained that the case was "politically motivated" and "fabricated" at the instance of her rival DMK.
Read: Jayalalithaa case verdict: AIADMK workers try to break barricades on Karnataka-Tamil Nadu border
The case was filed by Subramanian Swamy in 1996. She was arrested and jailed for some days after DMK came to power in the 1996 Tamil Nadu Assembly polls.
Here is a timeline of events:
The Karnataka government has so far spent Rs 2.86 crore on playing host to the case, according to documents obtained by an RTI activist.
Bangalore : Police detain AIADMK workers pic.twitter.com/oZlJxjgySW— ANI (@ANI_news) September 27, 2014
DMK workers celebrate in Chennai after court's verdict in J Jayalalithaa DA case pic.twitter.com/rpzxMWoC5f— ANI (@ANI_news) September 27, 2014
Chennai : AIADMK workers mourn the conviction of J Jayalalithaa in DA case pic.twitter.com/kAwjSshNl7— ANI (@ANI_news) September 27, 2014