Congress govt to appeal against Jayalalithaa acquittal

Rajat Kain

jayalalithaaIn a crucial move that may cast an impact on Tamil Nadu assembly polls slated to take place less than an year from now, the Congress government in Karnataka has decided to appeal against the acquittal of Jayalalithaa. Karnataka High Court had acquitted the Tamil Nadu chief minister earlier last month in a corruption and unaccountable wealth case.

TB Jayachandra, law minister in Karnataka government told about the decision of the state government to lodge an appeal against 11th May order of the High Court. The government is all set to move Supreme Court now.

“The state cabinet has decided, on the advice of the state’s advocate general that it has a strong case to appeal against the High Court verdict in the Supreme Court,” Jayachandra told the press.

“The Chief Minister has directed me to file an appeal in the Supreme Court immediately,” the Law minister added.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa was acquitted by the Karnataka High Court last month in a disproportionate assets case. The bench of Justice Kumaraswamy had said that the prosecution failed to prove the conspiracy on the part of accused.

“The prosecution has mixed up the assets of accused, firms and companies and also added the cost of construction i.e., Rs. 27,79,88,945 and marriage expenses at Rs.6,45,04,222/- and valued the assets at Rs. 66,44,73,573,” the High Court had noted in a judgement.

It was a big relief for the 67-year old AIADMK chief, who had to step down as the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister after being held guilty of amassing disproportionate assets by the trial court in September 2014. After the High Court’s decision, J. Jayalalithaa had returned as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. Post her conviction last year, she had stepped down from the top office. While the case was pending in the Karnataka High Court, her loyalist and senior AIADMK leader O. Paneerselvam ‘functioned’ as the Chief Minister of the state.

The High Court verdict had come as a big relief for Jayalalithaa and her party AIADMK that faces a tough state assembly poll next year. The party had swept 2011 assembly polls defeating arch-rivals DMK, and had also performed powerfully in 2014 general elections winning 37 out of 39 seats in Tamil Nadu.

Her acquittal and subsequent release had witnessed dramatic reaction from the cadres and supporters of AIADMK. Major security arrangements had to be made by the local police and security agency to contain the emotions.

Earlier on 27th September, 2014, a special court in Bengaluru had found the sitting Chief Minister Jayalalithaa of acquiring disproportionate assets case worth Rs 58 crores during her stint as the CM from 1991 to 1996. The court had sentenced her to four years imprisonment alongside imposing a whopping fine of Rs 100 crore. The special court had also convicted her associate V K Sasikala, her disowned foster son V N Sudhakaran and another close aide J Illavarasi. The three too have been acquitted by the High Court’s order.

The appeal on the part of Congress party run state government also lends political signals of sorts as to with whom it may choose to ally, if they do, in the upcoming assembly polls.