After acquittal, Jayalalithaa set to return as CM

Three others also acquitted; massive celebrations at party headquarters in Chennai and around Tamil Nadu.

May 11, 2015 11:15 am | Updated December 04, 2021 11:05 pm IST - Bengaluru

AIADMK cadre celebrate at Poes Garden in Chennai after the Karnataka High Court acquitted Jayalalithaa in a disproportionate assets case. Photo: R. Ragu

AIADMK cadre celebrate at Poes Garden in Chennai after the Karnataka High Court acquitted Jayalalithaa in a disproportionate assets case. Photo: R. Ragu

After eight months in limbo, AIADMK general secretary Jayalalithaa’s political life was resurrected in a matter of a few minutes on Monday.

The Karnataka High Court acquitted her and three others in the disproportionate assets case, setting aside a trial court order of September 2014 sentencing them to four years in prison.

The packed Court Hall No. 14 witnessed jubilant scenes when Justice C.R. Kumaraswamy announced that the appeals of Ms. Jayalalithaa and her associates — V. Sasikalaa, V.N. Sudhakaran and Ilavarasi — were being allowed, and they stood acquitted of the charges of amassing wealth disproportionate to the known sources of their income.

The proceedings lasted just five minutes as the judge chose to read out the operative portion of the order.

In his 919-page judgment, Mr. Justice Kumaraswamy said the prosecution had failed to prove the conspiracy.

He recalculated the income and expenditure of the accused during 1991-96 and said the additional assets they possessed exceeded their known income by just 8.12 per cent.

Citing a Supreme Court judgment in the Krishnanand Agnihotri case, he said that when the ‘disproportionate asset’ was less than 10 per cent, the accused were entitled to acquittal.

“...the prosecution has mixed up the assets of accused, firms and companies and also added the cost of construction i.e., Rs. 27,79,88,945 and marriage expenses at Rs.6,45,04,222/- and valued the assets at Rs. 66,44,73,573,” the order said.

Also, the High Court criticised the trial court for not including the loans availed of by the accused during 1991-96 as part of their income.

It also said due importance was not given to the evidential value of records such as Income Tax rulings.

“The Trial Court has not appreciated the evidence in a proper perspective,” Mr. Justice Kumaraswamy said.

He also said the fact that all the accused resided together at Ms. Jayalalithaa’s Poes Garden home did not prove any conspiracy.

When the judge got down from the podium, AIADMK lawyers erupted in joy and raised slogans hailing their leader.

DMK in disbelief

In contrast, the prosecution team and those representing DMK general secretary K. Anbazhagan were in disbelief.

In consequence, it would be a sort of a political resurrection for Ms. Jayalalithaa, whose disqualification under the Representation of People Act stands negated by the High Court findings.

This paves the way for her return as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, as it is possible for her to hold the position for six months without being an MLA.

Jaya's Resurrection

In a major victory for AIADMK, a special bench of the Karnataka High Court on Monday set aside the trial court order convicting former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa in the disproportionate assets case.

The clinching argument

The value of disproportionate assets was Rs. 2.82 crore and this value was not enough to convict them on charges of corruption, said Justice C.R. Kumaraswamy in his verdict while disagreeing with the verdict of the Special Court, which had computed the value of DA at Rs. 53.6 crore.

AIADMK chief keeps her plans under wraps

In a statement, Ms. Jayalalithaa said the verdict gave her immense satisfaction and proved that she was innocent. She warned her political opponents to end their conspiracies against her and thanked the partymen and people who prayed for her. But she did not reveal any of her plans. > Read more

What the SPP said?

“Counsel for the accused were allowed to make oral arguments for nearly two months, but no prosecutor authorised by Karnataka was present during such arguments,” B.V. Acharya said. > Read more

Comment

>Trial, errors and judgment - Sanjay Hegde After a long and convoluted progress through the courts, Ms. Jayalalithaa has finally been acquitted by the High Court. But this might not be the end of the morality play, with another appeal looking likely.

>Amma’s apogee moment - A.R. Venkatachalapathy History, the Marxist cliché goes, repeats itself twice — usually as a tragedy and then as a farce. But sometimes it repeats itself as a bigger tragedy. As the implications of the Karnataka High Court’s blanket acquittal of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa are thrashed threadbare, some crucial cultural questions remain to be explored.

>Where loyalty trumps all - Meera Srinivasan Loyalty, in a sense, has been the hallmark of Tamil Nadu politics. A person’s political commitment is primarily judged, in political circles, by her steely resolve to stick to a leader no matter what he or she is accused of. So what if critics label their leaders corrupt, authoritarian or power-hungry? “None like our leader,” they will vouch, with unmistakable earnestness.

How DA account for less than 10% of total income?

  • Vigilance probe’s findings: Construction costs: Rs.27,79,88, 945 Marriage expenses: Rs.6,25,04,222
  • High Court’s findings: Construction costs: Rs.5,10,54,060 Marriage expenses: Rs.28,68,000
  • Exaggerated value: Construction costs: Rs.2,69,34,885 Marriage expenses: Rs.6,16,36,222
  • Total assets: Vigilance estimate - Exaggerated value Rs. 37,59,02,466
  • Disproportionate assets: Total assets - Total income
  • Rs.37,59,02,466-Rs.34,76,65,654 = Rs.2,82,36,812
  • Rs.2,82,36,812 x 100/Rs.34,76,65,654=

The Hindu Editorial

  • > A sensational comeback It is an unusual feat for any politician in the country to regain her eligibility to hold the post after being unseated twice as Chief Minister.

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