news Sunday, May 10, 2015 - 05:30
Allegation: Jayalalithaa misused her position as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu between 1991 and 1996 to amass personal wealth to the tune of Rs. 66.65 crore. Her wealth was valued at Rs. 2.01 crore before her tenure as CM. In his judgment, however, trial court judge Michael D’Cunha pegged her amassed wealth at Rs. 55 crore. Further, the judgment notes that till 1987, her wealth was only found to be worth Rs. 8.5 lakh and some jewellery. The co-accused: Her close aide Sasikala Natrajan, Sasikala’s niece Ilavarasi and Jayalalithaa’s foster son Sudhkaran, who are accused to have helped her gain illegal wealth. Case Status: The trial at the lower court has been heard for 18 long years, and gave its verdict in September last year. The Karnataka High Court which heard the appeal against the verdict has pronounced the judgment and has acquitted all the four accused. Why the case against her is strong: The sudden increase in assets owned by Jayalalithaa and other accused from 1991, including the purchase of 32 shell companies, but without sufficient legal means. Her known source of income as CM was Rs. 9 crore. Jayalalithaa did not file income tax returns from 1987 to 1993. Jayalalithaa and the co-accused were living under the same roof during the period of alleged conspiracy Jayalalithaa’s flamboyant wedding celebrations of her foster-son Sudhakaran in 1995, which D’Cunha referred to as “mother of all weddings”. Prosecution pegged the expenditure for the wedding at Rs. 6 crore, D’Cunha brought it down to Rs. 3 crore. She constructed two posh residences at Siruthavur near Chennai and at Kodanadu in Ooty, and renovated her home at Poes Garden in Chennai. Tamil Nadu Public Works Department estimated the cost of renovations alone at Rs. 5 crore. The other three accused were also accused of owning properties like agro-mills, wedding halls and chemical companies, including land. AIADMK mouthpiece “Namadhu MGR” was used as a money laundering machine. Jayalalithaa’s defense: Here are few among her main points of defense The case was foisted by the DMK government with political motivations: Justice D’Cunha dismissed this, pointing out that the case was initially founded by then Janata Party leader Subramaniam Swamy. Sudhakaran’s wedding expenses were mostly borne by bride’s family: D’Cunha calculates expenditure on his own and pins the expenses on Jayalalithaa. Around Rs 14 crore, the money gained through “Namadhu MGR” magazine subscription was from party supporters who contributed to the party through deposits ranging from Rs. 12000 to Rs. 18000: D’Cunha rejected the argument stating that there were no proof of advertisements or announcements inviting donations or subscriptions. Agricultural incomes through various companies including Jaya Publications: Claim was rejected, stating that the claim was made two years after registration of case, and a publishing house has no interest in agriculture. Jayalalithaa had income from property rentals to the tune of Rs. 45 lakh. All income tax returns were filed and accepted later, and so Jayalalithaa’s lawyers have been insisting the question of disproportionate assets does not even arise.