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With Sasikala Poised To Become CM, SC Is Likely To Give Its Verdict On The Disproportionate Assets Case Next Week

A moment of reckoning.

06/02/2017 2:27 PM IST | Updated 06/02/2017 3:13 PM IST
ARUN SANKAR via Getty Images

Just when VK Sasikala's mission to become the chief minister of Tamil Nadu seemed to be going swimmingly well, the Supreme Court of India has thrown a spanner in the works.

In the wake of her taking over as the new CM, the apex court has signalled to the Karnataka government that the verdict in the case against Sasikala, along with three others, for amassing assets disproportionate to their income will be delivered in a week's time.

The court's ruling, which is awaited for several months now, can prove to be a major setback for Sasikala's political ambitions, which peaked last afternoon as MLAs of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) elected her as the Legislative Party Leader at their Chennai headquarters.

Her elevation was accompanied by the voluntary resignation of O Panneerselvam from the chief ministerial office and the party declaring her as the new CM of the state.

Even as MK Stalin, the Working President of the Opposition, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), thundered at these undemocratic proceedings, the decision to instal an unelected candidate in the CM's chair seemed to have been sealed by the AIADMK with impunity. Only now, with the Supreme Court stepping in to give a ruling in the long-pending case, a shadow seemed to have been cast over Sasikala's political fortunes.

During her tenure as CM of Tamil Nadu from 24 June 1991 to 13 May 1996, Jayalalithaa allegedly acted with her relatives VN Sudhakaran, Elavarasi and Sasikala in a conspiracy to amass ₹53.60 crore worth of assets disproportionate to their known sources of income. After a special court convicted them, an appeal was moved to the Karnataka High Court.

On 11 May 2015, the Karnataka High Court ruled that the AIADMK leader's conviction "suffered from infirmity and was unsustainable in law", as DNA put it, thus clearing a way for her return as the CM of Tamil Nadu, which she remained until her death late last year.

On a reminder today from senior counsel Dushyant Dave, arguing on behalf of the Karnataka government against the HC's acquittal, the SC said a division bench, comprising Justices PC Ghose and Amitava Roy, will be pronouncing the judgement on this case next week.

A close aide of the late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa for over three decades, the 62-year-old Sasikala is known to be the de facto power centre within the AIADMK. Soon after Amma, as Jayalalithaa is popularly called, passed away, Sasikala embraced the role of Chinnamma, her junior, to carry out a silent coup in the party to inherit her mentor's political legacy.

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