ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Catching the Corrupt

Will the judgment in the disproportionate assets case deter corrupt politicians?

She almost became the chief minister of Tamil Nadu; now she is behind bars. The future of V K Sasikala, the late All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader J Jayalalithaa’s protégé, has mesmerised the media and the Tamil public ever since the latter passed away in Chennai on 5 December 2016. The speculation ended dramatically on 14 February when the Supreme Court, after an inexplicable delay, pronounced judgment in the two-decade long disproportionate assets case and held Jayalalithaa, Sasikala and two of the latter’s relatives, V N Sudhakaran and J Elavarasi, guilty under provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. While the media obsessed over the political drama of Sasikala sequestering legislators loyal to her at a holiday resort as she made her claim to run the state of Tamil Nadu, the significance of the disproportionate assets case has been somewhat eclipsed. Even though questions have been raised about the timing of the pronouncement of judgment by the apex court, the ruling is nevertheless important.

Hearing an appeal against the 11 May 2015 verdict of the Karnataka High Court, that had overturned the September 2014 ruling of the special trial court convicting Jayalalithaa of possessing assets in excess of her known sources of income and convicting Sasikala and the other two of colluding in masking this unaccounted wealth, the Supreme Court upheld the trial court’s ruling in full. It observed that even though the first accused, Jayalalithaa, had died, the other three accused, including Sasikala, would have to serve four years in prison and pay a fine of ₹10 crore each as required by the trial court.

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Updated On : 28th Aug, 2017

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