Former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa has been acquitted by the Karnataka High Court in disproportionate assets case. It is a big relief for 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.
The High Court ruling has, technically, cleared decks of her return as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. Currently, her loyalist and senior AIADMK leader O. Paneerselvam is functioning as the Chief Minister of the state.
Reacting to the verdict, an elated Jayalalithaa said, “this is not a personal victory but a victory for the people”. Attacking her political rival, she added, “The DMK has been unable to defeat me”.
AIADMK cadres and her supporters were seen celebrating the court order lending a big reprieve to the leader whose political career too was at stake. With the last years’ special court conviction, Jayalalithaa was barred from contesting elections for the next 6 years. However, that imposition too has lapsed now with the High court’s acquittal.
Ms. Jayalalithaa has been out on bail after spending three weeks in the jail. The Supreme Court in October 2014 had granted her bail pending the appeals before Karnataka High Court.
On 27th September, 2014, a special court in Bangalore 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 order.
In her appeal, she had contended that she was the victim of political vendetta of the then DMK government-led investigation which had deliberately over-valued her assets and properties acquired during that tenure as CM.
Her conviction has caused some major law and order problem in the state as the cadres of AIADMK clashed with the supporters of DMK.
With excitements and high fervours expected from the supporters, the police had made elaborate high security arrangements outside the High Court as well her residence in Chennai. The prohibitory orders were in force within one-kilometre area around the High Court in Bengaluru since Monday morning.
The state of Tamil Nadu goes for the assembly polls next year and this verdict has certainly come as a big relief for Jayalalithaa and her party AIADMK. 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.