Nallamma Naidu, a retired Superintendent of Police (SP) of the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) who was the investigating officer in the disproportionate assets case against former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, Sasikala and others, passed away in the early hours of November 16.
The case regarding disproportionate assets was made on the basis of a complaint given by Subramaniam Swamy in 1996, he had alleged that Jayalalithaa’s assets had grown multifold during her term as Chief Minister from 1991-96. He had alleged that her assets went from Rs 2.6 crore to Rs 66.65 crore during the time period. Following this, the DVAC began probing the matter.
After a preliminary probe by the agency, an FIR was registered in September 1996, and Nallamma Naidu was made the investigator. In December 1996, he got search warrants to search Jayalalithaa's Poes garden residence, and raids went on for five days. During this time, jewels, saree and gold were seized. Based on evidence collected by Naidu, Sasikala, Ilavarasi and VN Sudhakaran were made co-accused to the former Chief Minister. He then filed a chargesheet in June 1997.
When the case came to trial, IG VC Perumal told the court that he did not authorise Nallamma Naidu to investigate the case and Jayalalithaa's counsel wanted the court to declare the whole investigation as illegal. But the prosecution, led by Advocate BV Acharya, told the court that Perumal was under pressure to discredit Nallamma Naidu.
Finally, Justice Micheal D'Cunha agreed with the prosecution and in his judgment convicting Jayalalithaa and others, also said that Nallamma Naidu had done the investigation based on orders from VC Perumal. The court noted that Perumal had 'buckled under pressure'.
According to the Week, during the investigation and after, there were threats to the officer’s life — including threatening phone calls and a bomb threat at his home which was found to be a hoax.
The case was first heard in the Madras High Court and later transferred to Bengaluru in 2003. While the trial court in Bengaluru convicted all the four, the Karnataka High Court later acquitted them. 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. The Karnataka High Court in 2015 ruled that the AIADMK supremo's conviction by special court suffered from infirmity and was not sustainable in law. The Karnataka government later appealed against this in the Supreme Court, which found all guilty. The former Chief Minister had passed away by this time, and the others had to serve the rest of their jail term.