In a major victory for AIADMK, a special Bench of the Karnataka High Court set aside the trial court order convicting former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa in the disproportionate assets case. Justice C.R Kumaraswamy, who read out the judgment at 11 a.m, said the appeals of all the four accused, including Ms. Jayalalithaa have been allowed and they were being acquitted of all charges.
In September 2014, she was sentenced to four years in prison and a Rs.100-crore fine was imposed.
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8:47 pm: AIADMK MLA Om Sakthi Segar tonsured his head immediately after the Karnataka High Court pronounced its judgment acquitting his party chief Jayalalithaa in a disproportionate assets case.
“I made a vow to tonsure my head and I am fulfilling it now as per my prayer to the Almighty for the acquittal of Jayalalithaa in the case,” he told reporters after tonsuring his head.
7:10 pm: NCP leader Sharad Pawar, CPI National Secretary Atul Kumar Ranjan, TMC leader GK Vasan, MDMK founder Vaiko, BJP’s National Secretary H Raja, AIADMK allies — Indian Republic Party, AISMK, AIFB and Tamil Nadu Kongu Peravai also extended their greetings to her.
7:00 pm: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Union Minorities Welfare Minister Najma Heptullah and Tamil Nadu Governor K Rosaiah also extended their greetings to Jayalalithaa over phone, AIADMK release said.
6:34 pm: Reacting to the acquittal of Jayalalithaa from the disproportionate assets case, Tamil Nadu Congress Committee president E V K S Elangovan said in a release that “while no aspersions should be cast against a judicial verdict, one has the right to criticise it."
5:42 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets Jayalalithaa after her acquittal in wealth case. “Honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Puratchi Thalaivi Amma and extended his greetings,” an AIADMK release said.
5:15 pm: Special Public Prosecutor B V Acharya said the prosecution case had been “seriously prejudiced” in the disproportionate assets case against former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and three others, as the state of Karnataka and SPP appointed by it was denied an opportunity to convince High Court through oral arguments.
Mr. Acharya said he was appointed as SPP after the Supreme Court order which said that appointed Public Prosecutor can file written submission within one day and there was no chance for oral arguments. “So High Court judge could not give me an opportunity.”
4:13 pm: “This is not a final verdict. In this background Karnataka government should appeal in the Supreme Court against Jayalalithaa’s acquittal.” - G Ramakrishnan, State secretary, CPI(M)
4:00 pm: Jayalalithaa was entitled for acquittal as the disproportionate assets held by her was less than 10 per cent of her income as per the guidelines of the Supreme Court for acquitting public servants based on the quantum of DA possessed by them in the corruption cases. >Here is the copy of the judgment.
3:40 pm: Moments after she was acquitted, AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa began consultations with senior party functionaries, including incumbent Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, over her party’s next move, at her residence in Chennai.
3:30 pm: DMK president M. Karunanidhi says, “What has been pronounced today is not the final verdict."
I would like to remind one and all about Mahatma Gandhi’s saying there is a court above all courts and that is conscience,” he said in a statement.
3:23 pm: The disqualification of AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa as a candidate in elections has ended following her acquittal by the Karnataka High Court in the disproportionate assets case, which she had suffered on her conviction last year.
Sources in the Election Commission today pointed out that “as per the operation of law, her disqualification is over following the court order.”
They, however, clarified that she will have to contest the election “again” to become a member of the legislative assembly.
2:22 pm: It's not unusual thing. When you are in a democratic system then such twists & turns are expected: Subramanian Swamy
1:50 pm: Former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa has issued a statement saying truth and justice has prevailed. Thanking God and the people of Tamil Nadu, Ms. Jayalalithaa says the case was a conspiracy by DMK to destroy AIADMK.
1 p.m: Special Public Prosecutor B V Acharya says, "I can't comment on the verdict unless I read the judgement of the Karnataka High Court. Prima facie I am of the view that the Special Court has rightly appreciated the evidence and has come to the right conclusion. I will give a detailed opinion to the State of Karnataka after going through the judgement."
12: 22 p.m.: Justice C R Kumaraswamy also acquitted AIADMK’s chief close aide Sasikala Natarajan and her relatives J Elavarasi and V N Sudhakaran.
12.20 p.m.: TMC leader G.K. Vasan said the judgement of the Karnataka High Court acquitting former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and others should not be viewed politically. "Our stand, eve when the trial court delivered its judgement, was the same," he said in a statement.
11: 25 am: A pall of gloom has descended on DMK leader M Karunanidhi's residence at Gopalapuram. Partymen expecting a judgment against Ms Jayalalithaa were disappointed and left the area one by one. DMK Treasurer M.K. Stalin and former Union Minister Dayanidhi Maran called on Mr. Karunanidhi.
11: 08 am : AIADMK congratulated in Lok Sabha by MPs after former Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalithaa's acquittal by Karnataka HC in disproportionate assets case.
11:00 am: Jayalalithaa and three others acquitted in DA case. >Read here
10: 54 am: DMK treasurer M.K. Stalin, former Union Ministers T.R. Baalu, A. Raja at party leader M. Karunanidhi's residence in Gopalapuram, Chennai.
10: 52 am: Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam is still at his official residence on Greenways Road. He is yet to go to Poes Garden or party headquarters.
10: 50 am: There is a huge media presence inside the Court hall, tense atmosphere prevails, reports Sruthisagar Yamunan
10: 36 am: No AIADMK men in Karnataka Court complex, reports Sruthisagar Yamunan.
10: 34 am: Prosecution and defence lawyers take seats as Karnataka High Court. Proceedings to begin at 11 am.
10: 30 am: 'Despite the protracted and tortuous course that the legal process took in this case, justice seems to have been finally done.' - Read > The Hindu's Editorial after the judgment was passed in the case.
10: 25 am: A steady increase in number of followers at Poes Garden residence of the party supremo, reports Meera Srinivasan.
10: 23 am: The Disproportionate Assets case has spanned over a solid 18 years with many twists and turns. > Here's a look at the timeline of the case
10: 22 am: A look at the political ramifications of the verdict:
» The AIADMK vote bank and Ms Jayalalithaa’s hold over the organisations are unlikely to suffer any immediate setback even if the High Court upholds the conviction.
» Political parties such as the DMDK and the PMK might seek to form new alliances and cash in on a possible mood of gloom in the AIADMK camp. PMK founder S. Ramadoss has been speaking of an alternative front
» DMDK founder Vijayakant, despite moving close to the DMK, will also seek to project himself as a right alternative.
» VCK leader Thol. Thirumavalavan is talking of cobbling together a front of smaller parties.
» DMK banks on being the most viable alternative to the AIADMK.
10:20 am: AIADMK cadre outside the party office in Chennai. AIADMK are chanting, "Our Amma is South Indian Jhansi Rani. Our Amma is Bharathi's new woman." Photo: Udhav Naig
10:15 am: A look at the TANSI case that put the former Chief Minister in a similar position in 2001. > Read here
10: 09 am: Today's verdict will decide the political future for Jayalalithaa and her party. What are the possible outcomes of the verdict? > Read here
10:05 am: AIADMK supporters line up in front of the Karnataka HC as a show of support to the party supremo. Photo: K. Murali Kumar
9:55 am: Party cadres seated along pavement at Poes Garden in Chennai. Photo: Meera Srinivasan
9:49 am: Unlike October during the Bail hearing, not many policemen at the Karnataka High Court for the verdict. Her absence being the reason behind the scarce crowd. Photo: Sruthisagar Yamunan
09: 35 a.m: AIADMK cadres have gathered at Sri Sangupani Vinayakar temple, Kancheepuram to offer prayers. > Read full report. Photo: D. Gopalakrishnan
09: 30 a.m: Anticipating trouble by the presence of AIADMK cadres, the police have issued prohibitory orders in a one kilometre radius around the High Court. About 500 policemen are expected to be on duty to avoid trouble. >Read more
From our Legal Correspondent Krishnadas Rajagopal:
When Justice C.R. Kumaraswamy delivers his judgment on the appeals filed by former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and three others against their conviction in a disproportionate assets case on Monday, it is pertinent that the verdict satisfies the high standards of judicial accountability and objectivity set for the judge personally by the Supreme Court. >Read more
Ms. Jayalalithaa need not be present in court when the judgment is pronounced. It is only in the trial court that the accused are required to be present at the time of the judgment, as per the Criminal Procedure Code.
Political ramifications of the judgment
- Opposition parties are counting on an adverse verdict to rebuild their own fortunes in the State.
- The AIADMK vote bank and Ms Jayalalithaa’s hold over the organisations are unlikely to suffer any immediate setback even if the High Court upholds the conviction.
- Political parties such as the DMDK and the PMK might seek to form new alliances and cash in on a possible mood of gloom in the AIADMK camp.
- PMK founder S. Ramadoss has been speaking of an alternative front
- DMDK founder Vijayakant, despite moving close to the DMK, will also seek to project himself as a right alternative.
- VCK leader Thol. Thirumavalavan is talking of cobbling together a front of smaller parties.
- DMK banks on being the most viable alternative to the AIADMK.
With the verdict in the Jayalalithaa wealth case on Monday, Tamil Nadu Congress chief, E.V.K.S. Elangovan opens up to The Hindu on the political scenario in the State and the future of his own party, which was decimated in the Lok Sabha Elections and faced a split in November.