Sasikala’s conviction in wealth case upheld by Supreme Court
Since Jayalalitha, the respondent no 1 in this case has expired, the appeals against her stand abated under the law.
The Supreme Court was responding to the challenge to the judgment and order of 11 May 2015 rendered by the High Court of Karnatka acquitting them of the charge under Sections 120B and 109 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 read with Sections 13(1)(e) and 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 as framed against them and also resultantly setting-aside the order of the Trial Court for confiscation of properties, both movable and immovable, of a number of firms in question.
The flow of money from one account to the other proves that there existed active conspiracy to launder the illgotten wealth of A1 for purchasing properties in the names of the firms, the apex Court order says adding the “Trial Court correctly came to the conclusion on such reasoning and we hereby uphold the same.”
Setting aside the judgment and order of the High Court, the Supreme Court bench, comprising Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose and Amitava Roy, has affirmed and restored the judgment of the Trial Court in toto against Sasikala and the two other respondents. Reiterating the fact that the charge framed against Sasikala and the others is proved, the order says: “conviction and sentence recorded against them by the Trial Court is restored in full including the consequential directions.”
The order says that the respondents, in view of this determination and the restoration of their conviction and sentence, would surrender before the Trial Court forthwith. The Trial Court is hereby also ordered to take immediate steps to ensure that the respondents serve out the remainder of sentence awarded them and take further steps in compliance of this judgment, in accordance with law.
Besides, J. Jayalalithaa, one of the respondents in this case was Sasikala Natarajan, the wife of one M. Natarajan who had joined Government service as a Publicity Assistant in the Department of Information and Public Relation, Government of Tamil Nadu, in the year 1970 and thereafter promoted in succession eventually as Deputy Director in the year 1986 in the same department. He tendered his resignation from Government service on 1November, 1988 which was accepted by the Government of Tamil Nadu with retrospective effect on 3 April, 1991.
Sasikala is the daughter of one C. Vivekanandan, a Medical Compounder, and her marriage with Natarajan was held in the early 1970’s. She was initially an occasional visitor to the residence of Jayalalitha at No.36, Poes Garden, in Chennai and started permanently living there from 1988 onwards and was acknowledged and declared by Jayalalithaa as her friend-cum-sister.
The third respondent in this case was V.N. Sudhakaran, the son of Sasikala’s elder sister Vanithamani and T.T. Vivekanandan. He started residing at No.36, Poes Garden, Chennai-86 in the year 1992 while pursuing his studies at New College in Chennai. Jayalalitha had acknowledged and proclaimed him as her “foster son” and had conducted his marriage with one Sathiyalakshmi at Chennai on 7 September 1995, in a lavish setting.
The fourth respondent was J. Elavarasi. She is the wife of late V. Jayaraman, the elder brother of Sasikala. V. Jayaraman was a Government servant and he died in December, 1991 due to electrocution while attending to works in the Grape Garden of Jayalalithaa at Hyderabad. Following her husband’s death, Elavarasi came to live at Poes Garden from the beginning of 1992.
The case of the prosecution
On 1 July 1991, Jayalalithaa was found in possession of properties and pecuniary resources in her name and in the name of Sasikala to the extent of Rs.2,01,83,957/- including the properties acquired in the name of M/s. Jaya Publications, M/s. Sasi Enterprises and Namadhu MGR, which had been floated by Jayalalithaa and and Sasikala with themselves as partners. But, after 1 July 1991, there was sudden spurt in the acquisition of assets and during this period, Jayalalithaa and Sasikala floated several firms in their own and J. Elavarasi’s name.
These firms are as follows:
i. M/s. J. Farm Houses;
ii. M/s. J.S. Housing Development;
iii. M/s. Jay Real Estate;
iv. M/s. Jaya Contractors and Builders;
v. M/s. J.S. Leasing and Maintenance;
vi. M/s. Green Farm Houses;
vii. M/s. Metal King;
viii. M/s. Super Duper TV (P) Ltd.,
ix. M/s. Anjaneya Printers Pvt. Ltd.,
x. M/s. Ramraj Agro Mills Ltd.,
xi. M/s. Signora Business Enterprises Pvt., Ltd.,
xii. M/s. Lex Property Development Pvt., Ltd.,
xiii. M/s. Riverway Agro Products Pvt., Ltd.,
xiv. M/s. Meadow Agro Farms Pvt., Ltd.,
xv. M/s. Indo Doha Chemicals & Pharmaceuticals Ltd.,
xvi. M/s. A.P. Advertising Services;
xvii. M/s. Vigneswara Builders;
xviii. M/s. Lakshmi Constructions;
xix. M/s. Gopal Promoters;
xx. M/s. Sakthi Constructions;
xxi. M/s. Namasivaya Housing Development;
xxii. M/s. Ayyappa Property Developments;
xxiii. M/s. Sea Enclave;
xxiv. M/s. Navasakthi Contractors and Builders;
xxv. M/s. Oceanic Constructions;
xxvi. M/s. Green Garden Apartments;
xxvii. M/s. Marble Marvels;
xxviii. Vinod Video Vision;
xxix. Fax Universal;
xxx. Fresh Mushrooms;
xxxi. M/s. Super Duper TV., and
xxxii. M/s. Kodanadu Tea Estate;
During the period from 1 July 1991 to 30 April 1996, there were no business activities at all in respect of many of the above firms, and in respect of others, the activities were more in the nature of acquiring assets like lands, machinery, building etc., which were not production oriented. No income-tax returns were filed by these firms. No assessment for commercial tax has also been done with respect to the business of these firms. Jayalalitha also did not file her Income-tax returns for the assessment years 1987-88 to 1992-93 till November, 1992 and when this issue was sought to be raised in Parliament, she filed the income-tax returns for the above period in November, 1992. Subsequent to 1 July 1991, assets in the form of movable and immovable properties and pecuniary resources like bank deposits were found acquired not only in the name of Jayalalithaa, but also in the names of the other three respondents and the firms floated in their
names. Scrutiny of various bank accounts maintained in their names and in the names of the above firms disclosed that huge credits in cash had been frequently made into various accounts which were not commensurate with the income of the individuals and of the firms concerned.
It was further alleged that, pursuant to the criminal conspiracy between Jayalalithaa, a public servant and her associates to acquire and possess properties and pecuniary resources by Jayalalithaa in her name and in the names of Sasikala,and the other two respidents and in the names of various firms floated by them, they amassed properties and pecuniary resources to the tune of Rs.66,64,73,573/- (later corrected as Rs.66,65,20,395/-), which was grossly disproportionate to the known sources of income of of the respondents during the check period.
According to the prosecution, The Supreme Court order says, the income from the known sources ofJayalalithaa during this period, such as rental income, interest derived from various bank deposits and other deposits held and in the names of Jayalalithaa and the other other respondents , agricultural income, loans and the salary received by Jayalalithaa as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, worked out to a total of Rs.9,34,26,054/-, whereas during this period the expenditure incurred by her including repayment of principal amounts and interest on loan, and other outgoings were assessed at Rs.11,56,56,833/-. Thus, as on 30 April 1996, Jayalalithaa being a public servant was found to have acquired and possessed pecuniary resources and properties in her name and in the names of Sasikala and her two other relatives and the firms floated by them, which were overwhelmingly disproportionate to her known sources of income to the extent of Rs.66,65,20,395/- (Rupees Sixty Six Crores Sixty Five Lakhs Twenty Thousand Three hundred and Ninety Five only) which is an offence of criminal misconduct within the definition of Sec.13(1)(e) punishable under Section 13(2) of 1988 Act and A2, A3, and A4 conspired with A1 and abetted the commission of the above offence.
Justice Amitava Roy, has observed:
A few disquieting thoughts that have lingered and languished in distressed silence in mentation demand expression at the parting with a pulpit touch. Hence, this supplement.
The attendant facts and circumstances encountered as above, demonstrate a deep rooted conspiratorial design to amass vast assets without any compunction and hold the same through shell entities to cover up the sinister trail of such illicit acquisitions and deceive and delude the process of law. Novelty
in the outrages and the magnitude of the nefarious gains as demonstrated by the revelations in the case are, to say the least, startling.
A growing impression in contemporary existence seems to acknowledge, the all pervading pestilent presence of corruption almost in every walk of life, as if to rest reconciled to the octopoid stranglehold of this malaise with helpless awe. The common day experiences indeed do introduce one with unfailing regularity, the variegated cancerous concoctions of corruption with fearless impunity gnawing into the frame and fabric of the
nation’s essentia. Emboldened by the lucrative yields of such malignant materialism, the perpetrators of this malady have tightened their noose on the societal psyche. Individual and collective pursuits with curative interventions at all levels are thus indispensable to deliver the civil order from the asphyxiating snare of this escalating venality.
In the above alarming backdrop of coeval actuality, judicial adjudication of a charge based on an anti-corruption law motivated by the impelling necessities of time, has to be informed with the desired responsibility and the legislative vision therefor. Any interpretation of the provisions of such law has to be essentially purposive, in furtherance of its mission and not in retrogression thereof. Innovative nuances of evidential inadequacies, processual infirmities and interpretational subtleties, artfully advanced in defence, otherwise intangible and inconsequential, ought to be conscientiously cast aside with moral maturity and singular sensitivity to uphold the statutory sanctity, lest the coveted cause of justice is a causality.
Corruption is a vice of insatiable avarice for self-aggrandizement by the unscrupulous, taking unfair advantage of their power and authority and those in public office also, in breach of the institutional norms, mostly backed by minatory loyalists. Both the corrupt and the corrupter are indictable and answerable to the society and the country as a whole. This is more particularly in re the peoples’ representatives in public life committed by the oath of the office to dedicate oneself to the unqualified welfare of the laity, by faithfully and conscientiously discharging their duties attached thereto in accordance with the Constitution, free from fear or favour or affection or ill-will. A self-serving conduct in defiance of such solemn undertaking in infringement of the community’s confidence reposed in them is therefore a betrayal of the promise of allegiance to the Constitution and a condemnable sacrilege. Not only such a character is an anathema to the preambulor promise of justice, liberty, equality, fraternal dignity, unity and integrity of the country, which expectantly ought to animate the life and spirit of every citizen of this country, but also is an unpardonable onslaught on the constitutional religion that forms the bedrock of our democratic polity.
This pernicious menace stemming from moral debasement of the culpables, apart from destroying the sinews of the nation’s structural and moral set-up, forges an unfair advantage of the dishonest over the principled, widening as well the divide between the haves and have nots. Not only this has a demoralising bearing on those who are ethical, honest, upright and enterprising, it is visibly antithetical to the quintessential spirit of the fundamental duty of every citizen to strive towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity to raise the nation to higher levels of endeavour and achievement.
This virulent affliction triggers an imbalance in the society’s existential stratas and stalls constructive progress in the overall well-being of the nation, besides disrupting its dynamics of fiscal governance. It encourages defiance of the rule of law and the propensities for easy materialistic harvests, whereby the society’s soul stands defiled, devalued and denigrated.
Such is the militant dominance of this sprawling evil, that majority of the sensible, rational and discreet constituents of the society imbued with moral values and groomed with disciplinal ethos find themselves in minority, besides estranged and resigned by practical compulsions and are left dejected and disillusioned. A collective, committed and courageous turnaround is thus the present day imperative to free the civil order from the suffocative throttle of this deadly affliction.
Every citizen has to be a partner in this sacrosanct mission, if we aspire for a stable, just and ideal social order as envisioned by our forefathers and fondly cherished by the numerous self-effacing crusaders of a free and independent Bharat, pledging their countless sacrifices and selfless commitments for such cause.
Edappadi Palanisamy, who was nominated today for the chief minister’s post by Sasikala after the Supreme Court sealed her fate, is under the scanner of investigative agencies.
Those in knowledgeable circles accuse him of being hand-in-glove with those spearheading the loot in highways and other works relating to the public works department (PWD). It is alleged that he is also a beneficiary of kickbacks from illegal sand mining and building contracts.
He has been mentioned as partner in crime in the affidavit filed by Shekar Reddy and Chandrakanth Ramalingam who were arrested during the demonetization drive. Chandrakanth Ramalingam’s offices in Karnataka and Erode were raided and he was accused of money laundering. His company True Value handlles funds and ATM operations of about one-and-half dozen banks.