A case filed by J Deepak, the nephew of late Chief Minister J Jaylalithaa came up for hearing before a High Court Bench on Wednesday. Deepak had filed a petition against an ordinance promulgated by Governor Banwarilal Purohit to convert Jayalalithaa's residence Veda Nilayam into a memorial. The former CM's nephew had argued in his petition that the approval given by the Governor was illegal considering that Veda Nilayam now belonged to him and his sister, who were not consulted about this.
The petition was brought before a Bench of Justice AP Sahi and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamurthy. They gave both the state government and Governor's office six weeks to respond to the allegations.
In his petition, Deepak pointed out that the land on which Poes Garden was built was bought by his grandmother and that the family had several memories associated with the residence. He added that his father grew up there and that he and sister Deepa too spent a portion of their childhood there. Deepak argued that he and his sister are the rightful heirs to the property and that they even did the last rites for their aunt as she did not have a legal heir.
He added that the siblings are in the process of getting a certificate to prove that they are legal heirs and a case regarding Jayalalithaa's assets is still underway. In such a scenario, he alleged that the state government failed to get their opinion and passed an ordinance in connection with their private property.
Deepak has also said in his petition that all work being conducted to convert Veda Nilayam into a memorial must be stopped.
On May 22, Governor Banwarilal Purohit promulgated an ordinance to allow the state government to temporarily take over Veda Nilayam and a sum of Rs 67 crore was earmarked for the purpose of acquisition. But five days later, the Madras High court ruled in favour of Deepak and Deepa and declared them as legal heirs of all of Jayalalithaa's assets. The court had called the memorial a waste of public money and suggested alternatives.
At the time, Deepa had told TNM that the family was against any such actions and that the property will remain with them.
Despite this, the government moved ahead with the acquisition of the building and started work to convert it into a memorial amidst the pandemic. The siblings had gone to the Madras HC over this but the court refused to stay the acquisition and the case is still ongoing.
The state government meanwhile has informed the court that turning Veda Nilayam into a memorial is a policy decision and that the matter cannot be reconsidered.