In a blow to Sasikalaâ€™s husband M Natarajan and three others in a 23-year-old car import case registered by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the Madras High Court has upheld a two year sentence against them. An Economic Offences court in Egmore had sentenced them 7 years ago.
In 2010, Special CBI court had granted two years imprisonment on the cases filed by CBI alleging conspiracy, forgery, cheating and tax invasion. The case had been pending in the High Court for the last seven years.
The five accused in the case are Natarajan, Sasikalaâ€™s nephew Baskaran, Balakrishnan who is a London based businessman, his son Yogesh and Indian Bankâ€™s Abhiramapuram manager Sujaritha Sundarajan. Balakrishnan had absconded in 2010 and so the cases were taken ahead against the other four people.
Senior counsel B Kumar who appeared for Natarajan asked the court to reduce the sentence, but the court declined.
The case is related to the import of a Toyota Lexus from UK on September 6, 1994 for Natarajanâ€™s use in Tamil Nadu. According to The Times of India, the car was shown as used vehicle of 1993 model by substituting the original sale invoice with a photocopy of a fabricated invoice. The investigation by customs department showed that it was a new 1994 model car and it had led to loss of Rs.1.62 crore to the exchequer.
Cases were filed in the Metropolitan Magistrate court in Egmore and in the Special CBI Court. The Enforcement Directorate had also filed a case under Foreign Exchange Regulation Act (FERA) 1973, and Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999. Later the CBI filed case under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1998 and sections of the Indian Penal Code.
In January, 2017, the special court had dismissed the petition filed by Natarajan asking to drop charges filed by ED against Natarajan and the other three people.
Will Natarajan have to go to jail?
Normally if a person gets a prison sentence of less than three years, the sentence can be suspended till next appeal. Legal experts TNM approached say that since the HC did not grant leave to appeal, Natarajan will have to go to jail and then ask SC for bail. However, considering he had recently undergone a liver and kidney transplant, he may approach court now itself, an expert opined.