Wealth case trial resumes, after 7 months

CHENNAI NOV. 7. After nearly seven months, trial in the `Rs. 66.65-crore disproportionate wealth case' against Jayalalithaa recommenced in the court of R. Rajamanickam, Special Judge-I, today. The cross-examination of an Indian Bank official, V.AR.Arunachalam, of Mylapore here was completed.

The case has been posted for tomorrow, when two more prosecution witnesses are likely to be cross-examined by defence.

Mr. Arunachalam who was working as the principal chief manager in Tiruchi and who was earlier chief manager of the bank's Abhiramapuram branch here was examined in chief on June 16, 2000. He was cited as a witness by the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption which, questioned on the accounts maintained by Sasikalaa, Jayalalithaa's associate, and her relatives in the Abhiramapuram branch. It has now been almost a year now since the cross-examination of the official began.

Another witness, R. Krishnamoorthy of Saidapet here, a section officer in the Information and Tourism department, said during cross-examination that he did not tender any evidence on the nomination in the Public Provident Fund of M. Natarajan, husband of Sasikalaa. Neither did he know the dates on which Mr. Natarajan applied for a scooter loan or when he obtained the amount. Also, he did not know when Mr. Natarajan applied for a loan to purchase a house and when it was sanctioned. Mr. Krishnamoorthy said there were superiors in his office. He did not maintain service records.

In his chief examination on May 31, 2000, the witness had said the DVAC questioned him on Mr. Natarajan's service. He told the court that Mr.Natarajan joined the Social Welfare department as a publicity assistant on May 13, 1970.

He became an Information and Public Relations Officer on November 30 the same year and was in the post till 1976. Subsequently, it was abolished. In 1980, Mr. Natarajan got back the post. In 1988, he became a Deputy Director. The witness also said Mr. Natarajan had given his wife's name as the PPF nominee. As a PRO he obtained a scooter advance. A housing loan of Rs.84,700 was given to him in 1987. He obtained a car loan of Rs.80,000 in 1987. He resigned on November 1, 1988 and his resignation was accepted only in 1991.

Besides Ms. Jayalalithaa, the others cited as accused in the case are Ms. Sasikalaa and her relatives, V. N. Sudhagaran and Ilavarasi.

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