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SC sends Sasikala to 4-year jail in DA case, dashes her CM hopes

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday convicted AIADMK general secretary Sasikala in the Rs 66 crore disproportionate assets case.

The apex court also 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.

Sasikala has also been asked by the Supreme Court to surrender immediately.

The apex court has directed that Sasikala must 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.

Read: Sasikala convicted: MK Stalin hails SC verdict as historic, says justice done

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.

After the verdict was pronounced, two more MLAs switched to Panneerselvam camp and he now has support of 12 MLAs, including himself.

Meanwhile, Sasikala called an emergency meeting of MLAs holed up in the Golden Bay resort and AIADMK appointed Edapadi K Palanisamy as the new party chief.

Sasikala also expelled acting CM Panneerselvam from primary membership of AIADMK. However, Panneerselvam sought support of party MLAs saying, “It is time to forget differences and unite to fulfill the unfinished dream of Amma.”

AIADMK sent a letter to the Governor signed by MLAs supporting Palanisamy as the legislature party leader. “We have sent a letter to Governor and are awaiting his reply,” said Palanisamy.

Sasikala subsequently expelled 20 leaders from AIADMK, including 7 MLAs who have joined Panneerselvam. The expelled leaders are AIADMK lawmaker K. Pandiarajan, former Assembly speaker P.H. Pandian and his son P.H. Manoj Pandiyan, N. Vishvananthan and senior party leader C. Ponnaiyan, K.P. Munusamy, J.C.D. Prabhakar, ex- MLA K. Thavasi, B. Mohan, K.A. Jaypal, S.K. Selvam, K.P. Rajendra Prasad, K.A.K. Mugil, former minister Parithi Elamvaluthi, Ex-MP E. Ponnusamy, V. Neelakandan, ex-MLA V. Neelankandan, ex- MLA Ko. Ayyappan, M. Muthuramalingam and S. Muthuselvi.

Leaders and MLAs from the Panneerselvam camp tried to visit the Koovathur resort to meet party legislators staying there. However, they were stopped by police on the way and Section 144 has been imposed in Koovathur. Faced with prohibitory orders, Team Panneerselvam heads back to Chennai.

Reacting to Palanisamy's elevation, Panneerselvam said that nobody has the right to elect anybody as AIADMK chief.

Palanisamy and MLAs arrived at Raj Bhavan to meet Governor Ch Vidayasagar Rao. Governor had asked Palanisamy to get 12-member delegation.

Sasikala still holds the majority, with 121 of 134 MLAs in her camp. She had 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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