Jayaprada's future as an MP is in jeopardy as she is said to have declared herself "insolvent", a status that does not allow a citizen to stay a legislator under the Constitution.
The matter came to light on Monday when one of her two brothers approached Madras High Court seeking a stay on the Chennai Corporation from attaching two cinema theatres that the actress owned for non-payment of property tax to the tune of Rs 20 lakh.
During the hearing, a court assignee, who is a judicial officer, informed the bench that Jayaprada had declared herself insolvent along with her two brothers in September 2006 after creditors demanded repayment of loans.
Article 102-(1)(c) of the Constitution says that an Indian citizen cannot be a member of Parliament or state legislature if he or she is insolvent. The actress, her husband and two brothers own the cinema halls in central Chennai, valued at Rs 50 crore.
In February 2007, the corporation claimed, Jayaprada failed to pay property taxes of Rs 20 lakh on the properties.
After two of her cheques bounced, the civic body got a court order allowing it to attach the properties. Officials of the corporation confiscated film rolls and projectors in the two cinema halls. The court told the Chennai civic body that as Jayaprada had been "insolvent" since September 2006, the right to dispose of her property now lay with the court assignee, S Sitrarasu. The corporation would have to apply to him to claim the tax.
If Jayaprada loses her Rajya Sabha seat, she will not be the first in Tamil Nadu to suffer such a fate. In 1985, another actress, Vennira Aadai Nirmala, was nominated to the legislative council. But an opponent revealed Nirmala had declared herself insolvent, so she chose not to be sworn in as an MLC.