The Supreme Court will deliver its verdict on Tuesday in a 21-year-old disproportionate assets case in which AIADMK general secretary VK Sasikala is a co-accused along with former Tamil Nadu chief minister late J Jayalalithaa.
The judgment could potentially impact the ongoing political crisis in the state.
Here is the low-down on the case:
• The case has its root in a complaint filed by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy in 1996 against Jayalalithaa, Sasikala, her foster son Sudhakaran and another aide Ilavarasi.
• Swamy had accused Jayalalithaa of amassing assets disproportionate to her known sources of income. The then Karunanidhi-led DMK government in the state directed the Vigilance department to file an FIR against the former chief minister.
• In the chargesheet, the vigilance department alleged her assets increased from Rs 2 crore in 1991 to Rs 66 crore in 1996, the period in which she was in power.
• Sasikala, who was initially an occasional visitor to Jayalalithaa’s residence, started staying there permanently from 1988 onwards. Investigations revealed she held properties and pecuniary resources in her name as well as in the names of firms floated by her and others on behalf of Jayalalithaa. According to inquiry officers, they went on a land-purchase spree after Jayalalithaa first became CM in 1991.
• Scrutiny of various bank accounts maintained in the names of Jayalalithaa, Sasikala, other individuals and different firms disclosed that huge credits in cash had been frequently made that could not be explained by their as well as the firms known sources of income.
• Shortly after Jayalalithaa came back to power in 2002, the DMK moved the Supreme Court seeking to shift the case out of the state so that a fair trial could be held. In 2003, the top court transferred the trial to a special court in Bangalore, stating that a ‘fair trial was not going on’ in the Chennai courts.
• But the case dragged on for over a decade. After about 18 years since the case was first registered, on August 28, 2014, the special court concluded hearing the case and a month later pronounced the accused guilty. They were all sentenced to four years in jail and an order to confiscate their properties was also issued. A fine of Rs 100 crore was imposed on Jayalalithaa. The other three convicts, including Sasikala, were asked to pay Rs 10 crore each.
• Jayalalithaa was forced to resign as the CM immediately in accordance with a Supreme Court ruling that disqualified an elected lawmaker, if convicted, for three or more years. This resulted in Jayalalithaa going into custody for three weeks. Sasikala too was jailed until the top court on October 17, 2014 suspended their sentence and gave them bail.
• About a year later, on May 11, 2015, the Karnataka High Court acquitted all the four.