Did Jayalalithaa leave a will?

After the passing away of former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on December 5, there is no clarity on what happens to assets worth Rs 113.72 crore she has left behind. Any settlement would depend on whether she had left behind a will or not. In the AIADMK, none including some of the lawyers who had handled Jayalalithaa’s legal affairs, who The Hindu spoke to on December7, is aware of the existence of one.

The statutory election affidavit filed by Jayalalithaa in April this year mentioned assets valued at Rs. 113.72 crore. Of this, movable assets add up to Rs. 41.63 crore and immovable property to Rs. 72.09 crore. (These values do not include that of 21.28 kg of her gold that now lies with the Karnataka government treasury).

“If there is a will, the assets would be distributed as per the will. In this case, even if a will emerges, a legal challenge is likely on whether it is a genuine one executed under free will. In the case of a will, the legal process is required to be followed by way of application to the Madras High Court. When a public notice is issued on the testamentary proceedings, any other claimants can file a challenge,” Ramesh Vaidyanathan, managing partner of the law firm Advaya Legal, said in response to a query.

The situation would become tricky in the absence of a will. “As per law, the following is the rule of succession in the absence of a will — sons, daughters and husband. Next, heirs of the husband. Next, mother and father. Next, heirs of father. Finally, heirs of mother.”

Of the immovable properties, the major one is the residential building ‘Veda Nilayam’ in the upscale Poes Garden. It is spread over 24,000 square foot with a builtup area of 21,662 square feet, and valued at Rs. 43.96 crore, as per the affidavit. She had brought the property along with her mother for Rs. 1.32 lakh in 1967.

Along with her mother she also had acquired 14.50 acres of farmland in Jeedimetal village in Ranga Reddy district of Telangana, and 3.43 acres in Cheyyur village in Tamil Nadu. These were acquired in 1968 and 1981 respectively. The market value of the agricultural land stood at Rs. 14.78 crore, according to the disclosure.

She had four commercial properties (three in Chennai and one in Hyderabad), which had a market value of Rs. 13.34 crore, as per the affidavit.

“Since the funds for the Poes Garden property were also apparently contributed by Jayalalithaa’s mother, it becomes ancestral property to that extent. The self-acquired property will devolve as per law,” Mr. Vaidyanathan said.

The position with regard to a person’s self-acquired property is that in the absence of a valid will, the succession would be determined by the law.

Jayalalithaa had disclosed cash in hand of Rs. 41,000 and Rs. 10.63 crore in deposits with banks and financial institutions. Of the bank deposits, Rs. 2.47 crore remain frozen following proceedings in the disproportionate assets case, pending before the Supreme Court.

She disclosed investments of Rs. 27.44 crore as a partner in five firms: Shri Jaya Publications, Sasi Enterprises, Kodanad Estate, Royal Valley Floritech Exports and Green T Estate. Shares in some companies had been seized and their value could not be ascertained, she had stated.

“If these firms are partnership firms, her share will be dealt with as per the partnership deed. Usually, if there are only two partners the existing partnership gets dissolved and the share of assets of the deceased partner are inherited by the legal heirs,” Mr. Vaidyanathan said.

Fleet of vehicles

The late Chief Minister owned a fleet of vehicles. These included two Toyota Prado vehicles, a Tempo Traveller, a Tempo Trax, two Mahindra models, a Swaraj Mazda Maxi, an Ambassador, 1980 make and a Contessa, 1990 model. These were valued at 42.25 lakh in the statutory declaration.

She had declared possession of 1,250 kg of silver worth Rs. 3.12 crore, but stated that the value of 21,280.300 grams (21.28 kg) of gold articles could not be ascertained as it was lying in the Karnataka government treasury in connection with the disproportionate assets case proceedings.

Jayalalithaa had disclosed liabilities of Rs. 2.04 crore.

The Hindu referred the legal questions involved here to a few other lawyers as well, but none of them wanted to comment or go on record.

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Printable version | Sep 28, 2022 1:55:47 am |