SC verdict in a week in DA case: Time not ripe for Sasikala?

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sasikalaThe Supreme Court on February 6 stated it would pronounce its verdict in the disproportionate assets case against ex-Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalithaa in a week. Sasikala, AIADMK general secretary and leader of legislative party, is a co-accused in the case.

Jayalalithaa was booked under Prevention of Corruption Act in 1996 for amassing unaccounted wealth and after Kanataka HC acquitted her in the case, the state government had moved the Supreme Court in 2015 in the same case. The SC had reserved verdict in Jayalalithaa’s DA case last year.

Earlier, a special court in Bengaluru had in 2014 found her and Sasikala guilty and sentenced them to four years imprisonment. Then, Jayalalithaa had to vacate the CM’s chair, but came to power on a thumping majority in the 2016 assembly polls.

A division bench comprising Justice PC Ghose and Justice Amitava Roy will pronounce the verdict.

On February 6, Senior Counsel Dushyant Dave, representing the Karnataka government, reminded the bench about the verdict. He said, “It is his unpleasant duty to remind the bench about the verdict that was reserved over three months ago.”

This comes in wake of the Sasikala expected to assume office this week as the CM of Tamil Nadu. With many cases pending against her and her family members, legal experts wonder aloud if it would be judicious to take over as CM now.

Her tryst with legal proceedings started in 1996 along with Jayalalithaa. The former CM suffered four convictions, wriggled out all, but the Rs 66.65 crore disproportionate assets case.

If the SC upholds the special court’s verdict convicting all the accused, it would be a political blow for Sasikala and the AIADMK.

Sasikala was convicted in all three cases along with Jayalalithaa. And the biggest test of all is the disproportionate assets case. In the case, SC would give its verdict no later than May 2017 as one of the two judges is scheduled to retire by then.

Recently, the Madras HC had set aside Sasikala’s discharge in four ED-probed cases, thereby exposing her to trial these cases. The ED has filed an appeal in the SC stating that Sasikala was yet to make a personal appearance in a FERA violations case.