The stakes have risen for all sides in the AIADMK civil war, as the Supreme Court is pronouncing its verdict in the Disproportionate Assets case on Tuesday.
The court has three options open to it in the case. It may uphold the conviction of Sasikala or it may acquit her in the case. Thirdly, it may send the case back to the Karnataka High Court.
However, according to sources, the two judges on the bench, Justice Amitava Roy and Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose are writing separate judgements in the case. This increases the possibility of a fourth scenario, where the verdict is split, with the judges differing between themselves on acquittal, conviction or referral back to the HC.
In such a case, the CJI will likely refer the case to another judge or to a larger bench consisting of three judges (though this is less likely). This would mean that a final verdict in a short period of time will not be expected, since even fresh arguments could be heard in the case.
This would mean that a window opens up for Sasikala, as Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi has already advised Governor Vidyasagar Rao that he must respect the choice of the AIADMK legislature party and swear in Sasikala and call for a floor test as soon as possible.
If the case gets referred to a new bench, this would no longer mean a short delay of a few days until matters settle, and could mean a delay of months or years. Therefore the Governor would not be able to justify waiting any longer.
A riskier future if case referred back to Karnataka HC
There is also a possibility that the Supreme Court will 'remand' (refer back) the case to the Karnataka High Court. In that situation, Sasikala's lawyer can ask for the appeals to be heard all over again.
Such a move will put a stop to her current political ambitions as the Supreme Court remand would automatically mean that the Karnataka High Court judge Justice Kumaraswamy's acquittal is automatically set aside.
That in turn would mean that special court judge Justice Cunha's judgment, convicting Sasikala, is restored. This would mean that Sasikala will remain convicted, and therefore cannot contest elections.