Tamil Nadu

Jayalalithaa’s nephew, niece entitled to her assets: Madras High Court

Veda Nilayam, the residence of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa.   | Photo Credit: M. Karunakaran

Ending the uncertainty over inheritance of vast properties left behind by former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, the Madras High Court on Wednesday declared her nephew J. Deepak and niece J. Deepa as Class II legal heirs entitled to all the properties left behind by their aunt.

The former AIADMK leader, who faced a disproportionate assets case, died intestate on December 5, 2016.

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The court made it clear that the State government could not acquire any of the properties without issuing notice to the legal heirs and paying them adequate compensation.

Justices N. Kirubakaran and Abdul Quddhose allowed an application filed by Mr. Deepak and granted a Letter of Administration in favour of him and his sister. They also recorded the siblings’ undertaking that a few properties, to be selected as per their discretion, would be allotted to create a public trust named after Jayalalithaa for welfare activities. Such a trust should be created within eight weeks of the date of receipt of the judgment, the judges ordered.

They rejected another case filed by AIADMK functionaries K. Pugazhenthi and P. Janakiraman for appointing them as administrators of the properties left behind by their departed leader.

The Bench agreed with advocate S.L. Sudarsanam, representing Mr. Deepak, that rank outsiders could not be given Letters of Administration.

Authoring the verdict, Justice Kirubakaran advised the government to give up its decision to acquire Veda Nilayam, Jayalalithaa’s bungalow at Poes Garden in Chennai, and convert it into a memorial. Since the bungalow, spread over 10 grounds in the posh locality, was reported to be worth over ₹100 crore, the judge felt it to be a waste of public money.

Recently the State promulgated an ordinance to take over the bungalow temporarily.

“Instead of acquiring the said property and paying a heavy compensation, the said amount could be utilised for development purposes... When there are so many essential amenities which are yet to be provided by the welfare state, public money cannot be wasted on memorials,” the court said.

It cautioned that if Jayalalithaa’s residence was converted into a memorial, every other party that would come to power in the State might use public money to convert the residences of their leaders into memorials.

Also read | Jayalalithaa declared only four properties as her assets, I-T department tells Madras High Court

On the other hand, if the government persisted with its plan to acquire the Poes Garden bungalow by burning a hole in the exchequer, either the entire property or at least a part of it could be used as the official residence-cum-home office of the Chief Minister and the rest could be converted into a memorial, the court said.

The judges directed the government to provide round-the-clock security to Mr. Deepak and Ms. Deepa. Ordering that the siblings bear the cost of the security, the Bench said any one of their aunt’s properties could be liquidated to pay the cost.

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Printable version | Aug 1, 2021 8:45:43 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/jayalalithaas-nephew-niece-entitled-to-her-assets-madras-high-court/article31684737.ece

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