A Bengaluru court’s verdict sentencing Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa to jail for four years can virtually finish her political career as she will be out of electoral politics for 10 years, unless a superior court comes to her rescue.
Due to a July 2013 Supreme Court verdict, the 66-year-old AIADMK Supremo stands instantly disqualified as an MLA. She will be forced to quit as chief minister. But that’s just the beginning of her ordeal.
Under the law, a convicted person becomes disqualified to contest elections. The disqualification continues for a further period of six years after the person is released from jail. It means she can’t enter electoral politics for a decade.
By the time she becomes eligible to contest elections again, it will be too late for her to stage an easy political comeback. But this is not to suggest Amma has completely run out of options. Even a convicted person can contest elections if his/her conviction and sentence — both are stayed by a superior court.
In January 2007, the SC had stayed the conviction and sentence of BJP’s Navjot Singh Sidhu in a road rage death case, paving his way for contesting the Amritsar Lok Sabha bypoll, necessitated by his resignation.
But “an order granting stay of conviction is not the rule but is an exception to be resorted to in rare cases depending upon the facts of a case,” the SC had clarified.
It was for this reason that the SC had refused a similar relief to former Rajya Sabha MP DP Yadav’s son Vikas Yadav, sentenced to four-year imprisonment in the Jessica Lall murder case, for contesting 2007 UP assembly elections.