Supreme Court verdict: Sasikala stayed with Jayalalithaa to launder ill-gotten wealth
J Jayalalithaa allowed free accommodation to Sasikala Natrajan and her nephew and niece not out of humanitarian concern but pursuant to the criminal conspiracy hatched by them to hold former Tamil Nadu chief minister’s assets, the Supreme Court said on Tuesday.
In its judgement convicting Sasikala and two others in the 21-year-old corruption case involving Jayalalithaa, a bench of Justice PC Ghose and Justice AK Roy noted the accused did not congregate at Chennai’s Poes Garden for a social living. It was done to amass assets and launder her ill-gotten wealth.
The money was spent to purchase properties in the names of shell companies that were running from Jayalalithaa’s residence, the court said after adducing the evidence before it. These firms held Jayalalithaa’s properties and were a front.
“The firms and companies were operating from the residence of Jayalalithaa and it cannot be accepted that she was unaware of the same even though she feigned ignorance about the activities carried on by Sasikala. They were residing with Jayalalithaa without any blood relation between them,” the top court said, holding the trial court was right in declaring all four accused guilty.
There was overwhelming evidence to show Jayalalithaa had executed a general power of attorney in Sasikala’s favour to keep herself secure from legal complications.
“The joint residence of all the accused persons also could not be ignored as a factor contributing to the charge of conspiracy and abetment, when assessed together with the attendant facts and circumstances reinforcing the said imputations,” it said.
Fifty bank accounts of Jayalalithaa and Sasikala “mushroomed” between 1991 and 1995. These were utilised to transfer the unaccounted money, the SC said. The accused failed to offer any satisfactory explanation, the court noted. According to the prosecution, at the commencement of the check period there were hardly 10-12 accounts.
SC relied on the statement of a prosecution witness to state Jayalalithaa had issued blanket instructions that the directions made by Sasikala ought to be followed. The latter took the decision in which account the huge cash deposits were to be made.
SC declined to give any relief to the accused on the ground their incomes were declared before the I-T deparment.