Update: Palaniswamy submits lists of MLAs to Governor, claims to have 135 of them in support.Panneerselvam will also meet Governor today.
Newly elected AIADMK Legislature Party Leader Edappadi K Palaniswami on Tuesday met governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao and staked claim to form the government.
Update: Governor Ch Vidayasagar Rao to meet newly elected AIADMK Legislature Party leader Edappadi K Palaniswami and others at 5.40 PM: Raj Bhavan.
Chennai: The Supreme Court has convicted the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kadzhagam (AIADMK) general secretary V K Sasikala, along with two others in a 20-year -old Disproportionate Assets (DA) case on Tuesday, coming as a twist to the political crisis in Tamil Nadu. The order has been issued at a time when Sasikala had staked a claim to become the Chief Minister of the State, replacing O Panneerselvam.
However, State highways minister Edappadi Palanisamy has been elected as AIADMK legislative party leader. A team led by Edappady Palanisamy wud meet Governor in charge and stake claim to form Government.
Panneerselvam has been expelled from the party.
This means VK Sasikala won’t be able to contest elections for next 10 years. TV reports claimed that Sasikala broke down after hearing the verdict at the resort she was staying.
This is the same resort where AIADMK MLAs were staying. Special forces have been deployed at the resort. Sasikala will be taken into immediate custody.
Sasikala will now have to spend more than three years in the prison. She will not be able to contest for public office for six years after serving her sentence in prison.
B V Acharya, a former advocate general, said “This shows judiciary is independent and however powerful you are, you cannot escape.
He added that a review is not permissible in a criminal case. It is a unanimous decision of two judges.
Rival DMK’s Working President M K Stalin said, ” it is a historical judgement. After 21 years, justice has been restored. Politicians should be clean in public life. He urged the governor to bring a stable government in the state.
It may be noted that while Sasikala has staked claim to form the government, with support claimed from around 129 MLAs in the party, C Vidyasagar Rao, who is the Governor in charge of Tamil Nadu, has not invited her to form the government. O Panneerselvam, who resigned on February 5 as Chief Minister paving way for Sasikala to claim the position, on February 7 came out with allegation that he was forced to sign the resignation, instigating a revolt within the party against Sasikala and family. He was later joined by almost seven MLAs and 12 MPs over seven days, while Sasikala took all the MLAs to a resort near Chennai in order to keep them together during the crisis. Several party officials were expelled by Sasikala for switching sides to Panneerselvam faction. The delay, which has created a crisis in the State government, was said to be due to the governor’s decision to wait for the verdict on the DA case.
With the Supreme Court ruling against Sasikala and others, her chances to become the Chief Minister of the state are now ruled out, though she can appoint some trusted party leader to the post, similar to what Jayalalithaa did twice when she was convicted in cases and lost the Chief Ministership. It may be noted that twice, in 2001 and 2014, when Jayalalithaa was convicted by the Courts, Panneerselvam took over as the Chief Minister, who gave back the position when Jayalalithaa returned with favourable verdicts.
The order could also prompt more MLAs to join the Panneerselvam faction, which could give strength for him to form a government, if he gets external support.
The bench comprising of Justices P C Ghose and Amitava Roy, after hearing the appeals of the state government and DMK leader K Anbazhagan concluded the hearing on June 7, 2016. The order comes in an appeal filed by the Karnataka government against a verdict of Karnataka High Court in 2015, acquitting the then AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa, her close aide Sasikala and her relatives J Elavarasi, V Sudhakaran.
Justice C R Kumaraswamy of Karnataka High Court, in May 11, 2015, upheld an appeal by Jayalalithaa and others, against an order issued by John Michael D’Cunha, the special court judge, on September 27, 2014, convicting Jayalalithaa under Section 13 (1) (E) of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 and sentencing the four of them for four years of imprisonment and Rs 100 crore penalty to Jayalalithaa and Rs 10 crore each as fine from Sasikala, Ilavarasi and Sudhakaran. Following the special court order, Jayalalithaa and others were immediately taken to judicial custody and had to spend around three weeks in a prison in Bengaluru. O Panneerselvam replaced Jayalalithaa, who was a Chief Minister during the time, since she was disqualified as an MLA and he returned the position when Jayalalithaa was acquitted by the High Court in May, 2015.
Justice Kumaraswamy, in his order, stated that the quantum of disproportionate assets in J Jayalalithaa’s case was a mere Rs 2.82 crore instead of Rs 66.44 crore, as had been alleged in the case and this amount is within permissible limits. “The percentage of disproportionate assets is 8.12 per cent. It is relatively small. In the instant case, the disproportionate asset is less than 10 per cent and it is within permissible limit. Therefore, Accused are entitled for acquittal,” said the order.
However, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and others have alleged that this finding was due to an erroneous calculation and an amount of Rs 13.5 crore was erroneously added to the income, which brought down the quantum of disproportionate asset.
The disproportionate-asset case dates back to 1996, when Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam (DMK) General-Secretary K Anbazhagan filed a complaint, claiming Jayalalithaa had amassed Rs 66.65 crore of wealth that was disproportionate with her known sources of income. In a raid carried out in 1997 in connection with this case, 800 kg silver, 28 kg gold, 750 pairs of shoes, 10,500 saris, 91 watches and other items were seized from Jayalalithaa’s Chennai residence.
Later, on a petition filed by Anbazhagan, who expressed his doubt over conduct of a fair trial in Chennai with Jayalalithaa as Tamil Nadu chief minister, the Supreme Court transferred the case to a Bangalore special court in 2003.
The case also has mentioned several entities involved in the alleged DA creation including Indo Doha Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals Ltd, Signora Business Enterprises (P) Ltd, Ramraj Agro Mills Ltd, Lex Property Development (P) Ltd, Meadow Agro Farms (Pvt) Ltd, Riverway Agro Products (P) Ltd, among others.