The Supreme Court on Tuesday convicted VK Sasikala in a 21-year-old illegal assets case that she has been embroiled in with late Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa. The two-member bench comprising justices Pinaki Chandra Ghose and Amatava Roy did not differ in their verdict, as predicted.
The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief is likely to be jailed for four years in the case and will not be able to stand for elections for six years after she is released from jail. The top court has entirely set aside a verdict from the Karnataka High Court that acquitted her in the case. Sasikala has been asked to surrender before a trial court immediately.
In the 21-year-old case, Jayalalithaa had been accused of colluding with Sasikala, Sasikala’s sister-in-law Ilavarasi, and their nephew Sudhakaran, when she was the chief minister between 1991 and 1996. The four had allegedly amassed the wealth of around Rs 65 crore, which was disproportionate to their known sources of income. Some of the properties under the scanner in the case include Jayalalithaa’s Kodanad estate and her Poes Garden residence, which Sasikala still lives in.
The bench ruled that “no other view is possible”, made clear by the “unimpeded, frequent and spontaneous inflow of funds” from Jayalalithaa’s account “to those of the other co-accused and the firms/companies” party to the case.
“We are of the unhesitant opinion that the impugned judgment and order rendered by the [Karnataka High Court] is untenable and is thus set aside,” read the judgment. The bench concluded that the high court’s calculation that the tally of disproportionate assets amounted to only 8.12% was “based on the completely wrong reading of the evidence on record compounded by incorrect arithmetic”.
The two-judge bench also observed that the trial court’s ruling was “meticulous, sensitive, vigilant and judicious”, as were its calculations.