Hundreds of supporters protested on the streets and shouted slogans on Tuesday after the Karnataka High Court denied bail to AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa who was jailed by a Bengaluru court in a corruption case last month.
Jayalalithaa was forced to step down as chief minister of Tamil Nadu after being found guilty of amassing wealth beyond her known sources of income and was replaced by her close aide O Panneerselvam. The Bengaluru special court handed her a four-year prison sentence and a Rs100-crore penalty.
Unless the conviction is overturned by a higher court, the AIADMK chief will be disqualified from contesting elections for a period of 10 years from the date of the verdict.
Celebrations by the party cadre fizzled out after initial media reports that Jayalalithaa had been granted bail turned out to be incorrect. Tight security was in place around the high court complex with police anticipating a rush of AIADMK supporters and leaders.
Rejecting Jayalalithaa’s plea, justice AV Chandrashekhara said there were no grounds for granting bail and reacted sharply when Public Prosecutor Bhavani Singh said he would not oppose if bail was granted conditionally. “The public prosecutor filed strong written objections but when he was asked to present arguments before this court, he said no objection.”
The bail petitions of Jayalalithaa's associates Sasikala Natarajan, VK Sudhakaran and J Ilavarasi were also rejected on the same grounds. The AIADMK chief is likely to approach the Supreme Court in appeal on Wednesday.
Citing several orders of the apex court, the judge said, “Suspension of sentence is not automatic (when an appeal is filed). Bail at conviction stage is different from bail when trial is on.”
“Corruption amounts to violation of human rights and leads to economic imbalance,” the judge added.
Watch: Jayalalithaa’s bail plea rejected by Karnataka HC
On Tuesday morning, posters saying Kannadigas living in Tamil Nadu would be held hostage if Jayalalithaa was not released from jail sprung up in parts of Chennai.
The AIADMK tried to distance itself from the row and its workers tore down the sheets allegedly put up by an expelled party member.
AIADMK workers wait outside the Karnataka HC for a hearing on their leader’s bail plea. (Sudipto Mondal/HT Photo)
“Warning...immediately release people's Chief Minister Amma...otherwise we will hold Kannadigas living in Tamil Nadu as hostages,” read the message which also bore the name of several AIADMK members.
The party said the posters were put up without its knowledge and stressed that it stood committed to the welfare of all sections of society.
(With agency inputs)