The week-old political drama in Tamil Nadu got some level of closure with the Supreme Court dashing all hopes of Sasikala's political ambitions through its verdict. Here is a look at the key highlights of the day.
SC upholds Sasikala's conviction
The Supreme Court pronounced its verdict on Tuesday morning sentencing VK Sasikala to prison for the next four years. In a 570-page judgement in the 19-year-old case that also involved J Jayalalithaa, the apex court ordered that Sasikala, 60, a close aide of the late chief minister, surrender forthwith and serve the remaining part of her four-year jail term.
She has already spent six months in a jail in Bengaluru. There was no immediate word on when Sasikala, who was held guilty of entering into a conspiracy with Jayalalithaa, would surrender. The conviction bars the AIADMK general secretary from contesting elections for nearly 10 years and holding any executive post.
The pronouncement of the verdict was completed in about eight minutes. Justice Ghose, before pronouncing the judgement, said "You can understand (that it is) too much of a fatty judgement. We have taken the burden on us." Senior AIADMK MP Thambidurai, a Sasikala loyalist, said they will appeal against the verdict.
"After analysing the facts and circumstances of this case and after taking into consideration all the evidence placed before us and the arguments put forward by all the parties, we are of the unhesitant opinion that the impugned judgement and order rendered by the High Court is untenable and is thus set aside," the bench said in its judgement.
The main judgement was authored by justice Ghose, but justice Roy who chose to supplement the concurrent findings, said the case demonstrated a deep-rooted conspiracy to amass vast assets through shell entities and deceive the process of law.
The bench, which heard the arguments between 23 February to 7 June last year, held that the judgement of the high court was "untenable" as it had wrongly calculated the disproportionate assets of the accused persons who were operating 34 companies during the "check-in" period, starting July 1991 till April 1996 when Jayalalithaa was the chief minister.
The bench held that Jayalalithaa, Sasikala and the other two convicts had entered into a conspiracy and the late chief minister, who was a public servant at the relevant time, had come to possess assets disproportionate to the known sources of her income during the check period.
"We have analysed the evidence adduced by the parties and we come to the conclusion that A1 to A4 (all the accused) have entered into a conspiracy and in furtherance of the same, Amma who was a public servant at the relevant time had come into possession of assets disproportionate to the known sources of her income during the check period and had got the same dispersed in the names of A2 to A4 and the firms and companies involved to hold these on her behalf with a masked front," the bench said.
Chennai's Poes Garden, residence of late J Jayalalithaa, was the hub of conspiracy and the money flow from one account to another proved the existence of an "active conspiracy" to launder the then chief minister's "ill-gotten wealth" to purchase properties in the names of the shell companies, the Supreme Court said on Tuesday.
The apex court said Sasikala and her two relatives — VN Sudhakaran, Jayalalithaa's foster son, and Elavarasi, the widow of Sasikala's elder brother — resided at Poes Garden with Jayalalithaa "without any blood relation between them". They were "accommodated" there, not on humanitarian concern, but pursuant to the conspiracy hatched by them.
Sasikala delays surrender, buys time
Sources told NDTV that 61-year-old Sasikala is unlikely to surrender or make herself available on Tuesday for imprisonment because she has not yet received a copy of the lengthy court verdict. Except for two MLAs, who say they "escaped", the others have not left the resort premises, signing letters to affirm they are not being held forcefully. On Monday night, Sasikala addressed the supporting MLAs and then spent the night at the resort, where she stayed throughout Tuesday.
Sasikala expels Panneerselvam from primary member's post
Even though Sasikala was asked to surrender, she made her final move by ensuring that Panneerselvam is ousted from the party. According to The Indian Express, hours after Sasikala was convicted, the AIADMK general secretary expelled O Panneeselvam and all the rebels supporting him including Education Minister K Pandiarajan and senior leader C Ponnaiyan.
According to NDTV, Panneerselvam has about 11 lawmakers on his side besides 12 parliamentarians. The AIADMK has about 125 -just eight more than the number it needs to win the vote. Though Panneerselvam camp wants a floor test and has asked for a trust vote, experts say that as the elected leader of the biggest party, it is Palanisamy who might be asked to prove his majority.
After the verdict, fresh also took place from the Sasikala camp. According to India Today, a van will ferry out all those MLAs who have decided to join Panneerselvam from the Golden Bay resort.
Sasikala elects Palanisamy as new face of AIADMK
Sasikala's loyalist Edappady K Palanisamy was elected the Legislature Party Leader, a move apparently aimed at projecting him as the next chief minister, while O Panneerselvam, the caretaker chief minister, was sacked from the party's primary membership, the latest in a series of tit-for-tat moves that the two factions have been making.
Moving quickly, Palanisamy, 63, met Governor Vidyasagar Rao and staked claim to form the government even as Panneerselvam made a fervent appeal to those in Sasikala's camp to go by their "conscience" in taking forward the government that was led by 'Amma' (Jayalalithaa).
Palanisamy submitted the letter of support of party MLAs, who elected him at a resort near Chennai.
Palanisamy meets Governor C Vidyasagar Rao
Newly elected AIADMK Legislature Party Leader Edappadi K Palanisamy on Tuesday met governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao and staked claim to form the government. In his brief meeting with the Governor, Palanisamy presented a list of MLAs supporting his claim. Some senior leaders and ministers also accompanied Palanisamy, according to sources. Palanisamy greeted the governor with a bouquet.
Clamour to turn Jaya's house into memorial grows louder
A signature campaign to turn 'Veda Nilayam', the official residence of late AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa into a memorial, has elicited a huge response from party cadres and the public. Chief Minister O Panneerselvam saying 'Veda Nilayam' would be converted to a memorial, as per the wish of Jayalalithaa, had launched a signature campaign.
Floor test by weekend
Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi says floor test will be conducted by the weekend and secret ballot will be entirely speaker's discretion. He added, however, that swearing-in is not necessary for the floor test.He said that Jayalalithaa's photos will be removed from all government offices, including the Assembly since her name came up in the conviction. The idea of having a memorial in memory of the late chief minister was also quashed.
Earlier, Tamil Nadu Governor Rao was expected to take a decision on formation of a new government in the state on the basis of recommendations by three legal luminaries, including Soli Sorabjee. In his only report sent on Sunday to the Centre, ever since Panneerselvam resigned as chief minister on 5 February, the governor conveyed that he had taken legal opinions from Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, former Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran and constitutional expert Sorabjee.
Two of the three experts suggested that composite floor test like the one conducted in Uttar Pradesh in 1998 could be done in Tamil Nadu, a Home Ministry official said quoting the governor's report.
(With inputs from agencies)
For more updates of the day see here.
Published Date: Feb 14, 2017 09:36 pm | Updated Date: Feb 14, 2017 09:36 pm