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Pannerselvam and his few followers sacked from primary membership of AIADMK; review petition in line

~By Sujit Bhar

The Supreme Court on February 14 found VK Sasikala Natarajan guilty in the disproportionate assets case and sentenced her to four years’ simple imprisonment plus a fine of Rs 10 crore. This meant Sasikala would not be able to stake claim to the chief ministership of Tamil Nadu. The court also sent to jail the late J Jayalalithaa’s relatives Sudhakaran and Ilavarasi who were also fined Rs 10 crore each.

Normally this would have meant a green signal for O Panneerselvam, the acting chief minister, to take over the top job. But, that was not to be.

Acting immediately after the verdict, Sasikala held a meeting with AIADMK MLAs at the Golden Bay Resorts in Kancheepuram (where her 128-odd loyalists had been interned and with whom she was spending the night with) and did two critical things. She expelled Panneerselvam from the primary membership of AIADMK, and secondly, chose her loyalist Edapadi K Palanisamy to take over as the chief minister.

Edapadi, reportedly, tweeted: “We have sent a letter to Governor and are awaiting his reply.” Governor Vidyasagar Rao is to take a decision soon.

Another decision that was taken was to file a review petition. AIADMK leader M Thambidurai, reportedly, tweeted: “We will file review petition. A new legislative party leader has been elected. #Panneerselvam no longer party member.”

Sasikala was to surrender as per law at the trial court, and as per law she will not be able to take part in active politics for the next ten years. However, the current arrangement meant she will retain complete control over the government from within jail through her proxy Edapadi.

The two-member Supreme Court bench of Justices Pinaki Chandra Ghose and Amatava Roy took no more than 15 minutes to dispose of the case on February 14. In a jam-packed courtroom, the judges said they would read out only the operative part of the judgement, because the overall judgement was long—570 pages—and this brief was enough to put “’Chinnamma” behind bars.

The judges upheld the trial court verdict in which Sasikala and the late Jayalalithaa were proved to have amassed over Rs 66 crores in disproportionate assets while Jaya was the chief minister from 1991 to 1996. Her death on December 5, last year meant that proceedings against Jayalalithaa were abated.

The trial court in Bengaluru had found Jayalalithaa and Sasikala guilty along with the latter’s relatives Ilavarasi and Sudhakaran, and sentenced them to four years imprisonment in 2014. All of them were moved to the Parappana Agrahara central jail in Bangalore.

On September 29 that year Jayalalithaa filed for bail in the Karnataka High Court but it was rejected on October 7. But ten days later, the Supreme Court granted her bail.

The case continued, but Jaya was not waiting to be jailed again. She came back to power in May last year, assuming her position as chief minister again. In her passing away last year, proceedings against her had to be abated, but the overall case continued.

Here You Can Read The Full Judgement

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