Panneerselvam expelled from AIADMK
Sasikala loyalist Edappadi Palaniswamy is the new Legislature Party Leader; May stake claim to form TN government
All India Anna DMK General Secretary V.K. Sasikala suffered a major jolt this morning with the Supreme Court upholding the trial court’s judgement convicting her in the 21-year-old Disproportionate Assets (DA) case against her. With this, Sasikala stands disqualified to take over as Tamil Nadu Chief Minister.
The Karnataka Govt. had challenged the May 11, 2015, State High Court verdict acquitting Jayalalithaa, Sasikala and her two relatives – V.N. Sudhakaran and Elavarasi – for allegedly amassing disproportionate assets to the tune of Rs. 66.65 crore during her first term as Chief Minister from 1991 to 1996.
Sasikala will now have to surrender to the Police in Chennai so that she can be jailed for four years. This ends her high-decibel and divisive bid to be CM of Tamil Nadu. She is now barred from contesting an election for the next ten years.
At 10.30 am today, two judges of the Supreme Court, Justices Amitava Roy and Pinaki Chandra Ghosh, delivered their ruling separately, but agreed that Sasikala had, in the early 90s, accumulated an illicit fortune. Justice Ghose authored the main judgement that ran into around 2,000 pages. He himself described it as “fatty judgement”. Justice Roy wrote a separate “thin” concurring judgement.
The court said it was restoring “in full” a trial court order that had convicted Sasikala and sentenced her to four years in prison. She had served 27 days in jail before she was granted bail.
The case was originally pivoted on J. Jayalalithaa, the four-term Chief Minister who Sasikala lived with, but because she died in December, the judgement does not detail her role. However, the finding rips a huge role through the legacy of Jayalalithaa, beloved “Amma” to lakhs of supporters who accorded her deity-like status and treated her with religious fervour. The case was premised on the fact that during her first term, Jayalalithaa misused her office to accrue Rs. 60 cores of assets in a shared fortune with Sasikala and her male relatives, who were later disowned by Amma.
In 2014, both women were jailed in Bengaluru, where the case was first tried. After being acquitted by the highest court in Karnataka, Jayalalithaa returned to office. The appeal against the acquittal was filed in the Supreme Court by the Karnataka government, which has prosecuted the case.
As the verdict was delivered today, Sasikala was at a resort on the outskirts of Chennai, where about 120 legislators from her party, the ruling AIADMK, have been stationed for a week to prevent them from switching allegiance to her rival, O. Panneerselvam, who took over as CM after the death of Jayalalithaa, his mentor.
As soon as the SC pronounced its verdict, Panneerselvam was expelled from the AIADMK by Sasikala-led faction for anti-party activities.
The verdict and aftermath
SC orders Sasikala to surrender immediately.
Police enter the resort where Sasikala is staying. Arrest not happened (till 2 pm ) as the MLAs meeting was on.
“In the past whenever Amma was in crisis, I also suffered. This time also I will take it upon me. ‘Dharma’ will win,” says Sasikala.
Over 700 Police personnel deployed outside Sasikala’s Poes Garden residence.
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