SC convicts Sasikala in DA case, awards 4-yr jail term

The SC has asked Sasikala and her 2 relatives to surrender before the trial court in Bengaluru and serve remaining part of 4-year jail term.

New Delhi: AIADMK General Secretary V K Sasikala was on Tuesday convicted by the Supreme Court that set aside the Karnataka High Court verdict acquitting her in the 19-year-old disproportionate assets case that also involved late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa.

A Bench of Justices Pinaki Chandra Ghose and Amitav Roy, who had reserved verdict on June 7, 2016, gave the verdict in the case. The bench sentenced Sasikala to a prison term of four years, and imposed a fine of Rs 10 crore.

The AIADMK general secretary now cannot become the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, or contest elections for 10 years, which includes the four years of prison term.

The apex court has directed Sasikala surrender immediately and serve over 3 years of her remaining prison term.

A bench of Justices Pinaki Chandra Ghose and Amitav Roy, who had reserved the verdict on June 7, 2016, gave the verdict in the case on Tuesday.

Subsequently, police reached the Golden Bay resort outside Chennai to arrest Sasikala.

“Amma’s sanctity has been defiled by betrayers,” the AIADMK's Twitter handle said after the SC’s verdict against Sasikala.

The apex court with its verdict restored in toto the judgement and the findings of the trial court in Bengaluru which had held guilty all accused including Sasikala's two relatives, V N Sudhakaran and Elavarasi.

The matter escalated to the Supreme Court after the Karnataka High Court had on May 11, 2015 ruled that Jayalalithaa and Sasikala's conviction by special court suffered from infirmity and was not sustainable in law, clearing decks for Jaya to return as Tamil Nadu Chief Minister.

The SC bench read the operative portion of the voluminous judgement saying, "according to the material and evidence placed on record, we set aside the judgement and the order of the high court and affirm in toto the judgement and order the trial court convicting the accused persons."

The bench said since Jayalalithaa had expired, the proceeding against her was abated.

"Nevertheless, we reiterate that having regard to the facts, the charge framed against them by the trial court is restored," the bench said.

In a separate but concurring judgement, Justice Amitava Roy said, "We have expressed deep concern about the escalating menace of corruption in society."

On June 7 last year, the apex court had reserved its verdict in the case after hearing detailed arguments from all the parties including the Karnataka government which was appealing the acquittal by the Karnataka High Court.

On July 27, 2015, the apex court had issued notices on the Karnataka government's appeal seeking stay of the high court judgement on Jayalalithaa, Sasikala and her relatives.

The special court had in 2014 held Jayalalithaa guilty of corruption and sentenced her to four years imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs 100 crore.

Jayalalithaa and three others were accused of allegedly amassing disproportionate asserts to the tune of Rs 66.65 crore during her first term as Chief Minister from 1991 to 1996.

Sasikala has been involved in a long and protracted power struggle with acting Chief Minister O Panneerselvam for the CM's post, following Jayalalithaa's death.

Sasikala appointed one of her loyalists EK Palanisamy as leader of the AIADMK Legislature Party, following her conviction. Soon after, O Panneerselvam was expelled from the party.

Sasikala still holds the majority, with 123 of 134 MLAs still in her camp. She has moved a number of MLAs to Koovathur resort near Chennai, where they have been staying for several days. Sasikala on Monday stayed overnight at the resort.

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