1995 lavish wedding and more: All you need to know about Jaya's DA case
One event that had sealed the image of corrupt Jayalalithaa was the 1995 wedding of her foster son Sudhakaran who is also the nephew of her close aide Sasikala.
Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa was on Saturday convicted by a special court in Bangalore in an 18-year-old corruption case. She has stepped down as chief minister and faces a four year prison term.
The conviction and case were based on a complaint by Subramanian Swamy in a Chennai court in 1996 which led to the probe against Jayalalithaa. The "Disproportionate assets case" as it came to be known 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.
Swamy pointed out in his petition that in 1991 (when Jayalalithaa first came to power) the value of her assets was Rs 2.01 crore and she had also declared that she was drawing only Re 1 as salary.
Perhaps one event that had sealed the image of corrupt Jaya was the 1995 wedding of her foster son Sudhakaran who is also the nephew of her close aide Sasikala. Interestingly Sasikala, Sudhakaran himself, and J Ilavarasi, a relative of Sasikala, are the other accused in the case and have been convicted as well.
According to Times of India report, the extent of extravagance at the wedding was something like this: A 2 km long route for the bharat, 10 dining halls with a capacity of 25,000 each and both Jaya and Sasikala were covered in diamonds. The report adds that the "marriage pandal sprawled over 75,000sqft."
A 1995 report in India Today also describes the wedding and how it saw state machinery being misused in all its glory. The piece notes, "The Madras Municipal Corporation deployed hundreds of its staff to level the wedding site, widen approaches and blacktop roads on the VIP route. The Tamil Nadu Electricity Board (TNEB) installed transformers to supply power to the site; Metrowater diverted water tankers to supply seven lakh litres of water; and government vehicles were employed to transport the cut-outs."
Some of the extravagant costs included: Return gift packets for two lakh guests costing Rs 16 lakh in total, over a 1000 VIP invitations which came on a silver plate with containers, a silk saree and silk dhoti, each costing Rs 20,000 and close to 1,000 rooms at top hotels in Chennai that were reserved for VIPs. It should be noted that while 16 lakh might not sound like such a big figure in today's terms, in 1995 it was definitely a big deal. You can read the full piece from India Today here.
The wedding it seems only confirmed the image of Jaya as a corrupt leader. As S Murari, a journalist who watched Jayalalithaa's career told TOI, "There were several complaints of corruption against her regime in 1991-96. But, from public perception, it was the vulgar display of wealth in the wedding that turned the tide against her."
Also as the report points out, Subramanian Swamy was among the first to crusade against her government and that it was "in 1995, he finally got Governor Channa Reddy's sanction to prosecute Jayalalithaa in two cases, including the Tansi case."
Swamy first filed in his complaint on 14 June 1996. The court then directed the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption wing to investigate the complaint.
Subsequently, an FIR was registered by the police on 18 September, 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 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. He had maintained that the trial would 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 SN Variava and Justice HK 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."
With inputs from PTI
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