All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief J Jayalalithaa could not "satisfactorily account" for immovable properties and pecuniary resources of the value of Rs 53.6 crore when she was the Chief Minister from 1991 to 1996, the Special Court that sentenced her to four years in jail has held.
Prosecution has proved "beyond reasonable doubt" that as against the income of Rs 9.91 crore and expenditure of Rs 8.49 crore during the "check period" (1991-1996), Jayalalithaa acquired and possessed in her name and that of the three other accused and in the name of the business enterprises acquired in their names immovable properties and pecuniary resources of the value of Rs 53.6 crore "which she could not satisfactorily account," the court said.
In what is considered a watershed verdict in the 18-year old case with a sitting chief minister being convicted for the first time, Special Judge John Michael D'Cunha on September 27 had sent Jayalalithaa to four years imprisonment and slapped a staggering fine of Rs 100 crore in the Rs 66.65 crore graft case.
Jayalalithaa's close aide Sasikala, her relatives V N Sudhakaran, disowned son of the former chief minister, and Ilavarasi, were sentenced to four years imprisonment and levied a fine of Rs 10 crore each in the judgement, which came as a bolt from the blue to the ruling AIAMDK in Tamil Nadu.
In his order, the judge also said prosecution has proved beyond reasonable doubt that the accused were parties to criminal conspiracy in the object of acquiring and pecuniary resource and assets to the extent of Rs 53.6 crore beyond the known source of income of Jayalalithaa.
"Hence, A1, A2, A3 and A4 are hereby convicted under the offence punishable under Sec 120(B) of IPC R/w Sec 13(1)(e) R/W Sec 13(2) of the PC act," the judge said.
According to the judge, the prosecution has proved beyond reasonable doubt that three other accused abetted the offence by intentionally aiding Jayalalithaa in the acquisition and possession of pecuniary resources and properties disproportionate to her known source of income.
"Hence A2, A3, A4 are here by convicted for the offence punishable U/sec 109 of IPC R/W 13(1)(e) R/w 13(2) of the PC (Prevention of Corruption) Act," he held.
Jayalalithaa is accused No.1, Sasikala A2, Sudhakaran A3 and J Illavarasi A4.
In default to pay the fine of Rs 100 crore, the judge said, Jayalalithaa shall undergo further imprisonment for one year.
For the offence punishable under IPC section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) read with section 13(2) of PC Act, she was sentenced to undergo simple imprisonment for six months and to pay fine of Rs 1 lakh. In default to pay the fine, she shall undergo further imprisonment for one month.
For the offence punishable under section 109 of IPC (punishment for abetment), Sasikala Natarajan, Sudhakaran and Elavarasi were sentenced to undergo simple imprisonment for four years each and to pay fine amount. The three shall each undergo further imprisonment for one year, the judge said.
For the offence punishable under section 120-B of IPC read with section 13(2) of PC act, the three other accused were sentenced to undergo simple imprisonment for six months and pay Rs 10,000. In default to pay the fine amount, they shall each undergo further imprisonment for one month. Period of custody already undergone by the accused shall be given set off under section 428 of CrPc, the judge held.
The judge ordered that necessary directions shall be issued to the concerned bank to remit the proceeds of the fixed deposits and the cash balance standing to the credit of the respective accused in their bank account and the proceeds thereof shall be appropriated and adjusted towards the fine amount.
If after adjustment, the amount still fell short of fine, the gold and diamond ornaments seized and produced before the court as observed in the body of the judgment shall be sold to RBI or SBI or by public auction to make deficit of this amount good. The rest of the gold and diamond jewels shall be confiscated by the government, the judge said.
The judge also ordered that all the immovable properties registered in the name of Lex Properties Development Pvt Ltd, Meadow Agro Farms Pvt Ltd, Ramraj Agro Mills Ltd, Signora Business Enterprises (P) ltd, Riverway Agro Products (P) ltd, and Indo-Doha Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals ltd should be confiscated to the state government.
Out of the fine amount recovered, Rs 5 crore shall be made over to the state of Karnataka towards reimbursement of the cost of trial conducted in the state, he said.
In her submission, Jayalalithaa contended that the case is foisted on her out of political vendetta by her political adversaries in 1996. She was aged 48 then and 18 years have elapsed and now she is 66 years old, the order noted.
In the 18 years, she said, she has suffered "incalculable mental agony, anguish and trauma" which cannot be compensated in her lifetime.
Today, as a result of "this mental agony," she has diabetes, hypertension, respiratory problems and many other ailments, she said, pleading for a lenient view in deciding the quantum of sentence.
Sasikala submitted, according to the court order, that for the last 18 years she has been undergoing mental agony due to this case and she has been suffering from serious ailment.
She has diabetes and eye problem and suffers from giddiness on account of eye problem. All these may be taken into consideration while deciding the quantum, she said.
In his submission, Sudhakaran also said his health had been affected in the last 18 years on account of this case. He had a six month old daughter when the case was filed and now she is aged 18. On account of the case, his mother also passed away.
"This case is entirely politically motivated," he had contended, saying he has been suffering a lot on account of it.
Illavarasi, according to the court, stated that she had been facing harassment for last 18 years, suffering from diabetes and hypertension.
Counsel for Jayalalithaa, B Kumar had submitted that she was chief minister from 1991-1996 and elected by the people again in 2001 and 2011. During those nine years (from 2001 to 2006 and from 2011 till now), even her virulent opponents were not able to allege one single instance of misuse of power, he had said.
"This aspect has to be taken into consideration. In 1996, 12 cases were launched against her by political opponents of which in 10 cases she was acquitted and one case was quashed. In respect to one case related to purchase of property, TANSI high court acquitted her and Supreme Court affirmed the acquittal," her counsel argued.
C Manishankar, counsel for Sasikala, also submitted that she is not a public servant. She had also undergone custody for 11 months and considering this fact, she pleaded for leniency.
Counsel for Sudhakaran also made similar submission.
Counsel for Illavarasi submitted that simultaneous sentence for offence under Section 109 and 120B of IPC is not tenable for, abetment is covered within the definition of Section 120-B, in view of the language of sec 120-B(1) of IPC.