It was a complaint by Subramanian Swamy in a court in Chennai in 1996 that led to a probe against Tamil Nadu Chief Ministers Jayalalithaa in what later came to be known as the Disproportionate assets case in which she was convicted by a Bangalore court today.
On June 14, 1996, Subramanian Swamy, then Janata Party leader, filed a complaint before the Principal Sessions Judge here alleging that Jayalalithaa had assets disproportionate to her known sources of income. Swamy, was then the President of the Janata Party, which has since merged with BJP.
The court directed the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption wing to investigate the complaint.
Subsequently, an FIR was registered by the police on September 18, 1996 and a probe was conducted which also included search and seizure procedures at multiple locations including Hyderabad. A chargesheet was filed and witnesses examined. The witnesses who were recalled in court after the AIADMK returned to power in 2001 invited the censure of the Supreme Court later.
It was alleged that the value of Jayalalithaa’s assets increased to Rs.66.65 crore when she demitted office in 1996 after a five year stint.
Before assuming office as Chief Minister on July 1, 1991, the value of her assets was Rs.2.01 crore, it was alleged. Jayalalithaa had then declared that she was drawing only Re.1 as salary.
While Jayalalithaa was the first accused in the case, her aide Sasikala, her erstwhile foster son V N Sudhakaran and J Ilavarasi, a relative of Sasikala, are the other accused.
The case, in its 18 year journey has seen many petitions filed by the accused involving questions, including that of law, procedures and relief in several courts like the trial court, High Courts of Madras and Karnataka and the Supreme Court.
The case was transferred to Bangalore in 2003 by the Supreme Court on a petition filed by DMK leader K Anbazhagan in which Swamy, impleaded himself in his capacity as the original complainant. Swamy also supported the transfer of cases out of Tamil Nadu for a fair trial. They had maintained that the trial will not be conducted in a free and fair manner if it was done in Tamil Nadu.
Transferring the case to Karnataka, an apex court bench, comprising Justice S N Variava and Justice H K Sema in its judgement on November 18, 2003 observed: It does appear that the new public prosecutor (appointed by the AIADMK Government) is hand in glove with the accused thereby creating a reasonable apprehension of likelihood of failure of justice in the minds of the public at large. There is strong indication that the process of justice is being subverted. Free and fair trial is sine qua non of Article 21 of the Constitution.
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