A special court in Karnataka conducting the trial of the Rs 66.65 crore disproportionate assets case against former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa has dismissed claims filed by five companies to properties linked to Jayalalithaa and her three co-accused and has imposed a cost of Rs 50,000 on each of the companies. The five companies had recently staked claims to properties linked to Jayalalithaa and three others despite a Chennai court attaching the properties in October 1997 as being bought with illegal wealth acquired by Jayalalithaa and her co-accused.
The special court in its order rejecting the claims made over the properties by five private companies came down harshly on the companies for supressing facts and obstructing justice.
The companies in question are Signora Business Enterprises, Riverway Agro Products, Ramaraj Agro Mills, Meadow Agro Farms and Lex Property Development. The companies had been named as benami holders of wealth that was acquired by Jayalalithaa and her co-accused – N Sasikala, V N Sudhakaran and J Elavarasi – during Jayalalithaa’s first tenure as Tamil Nadu chief minister between 1991-96.
The companies had recently sought a stay on the main trial in the disproportionate assets case against Jayalalithaa and had sought clearance of the claim petitions over the land holdings attached in the case. In its order dismissing the claim petitions filed by the companies the special court has stated that “by adopting dilatory tactics the claimants have successfully dragged on the proceedings for more than 15 years and raked up the pending claims at the eleventh hour causing delay and obstruction in the disposal of the criminal trial” pending against Jayalalithaa and others. The special court in its order stated that the companies had failed to produce acceptable evidence to show “that the properties under attachment were the assets of the company as on the date of attachment” and that the properties were acquired with the funds of the company.
The main trial in the disproportionate assets case against the Tamil Nadu chief minister resumed last week after the Supreme Court refused to stay the trial on a plea by Jayalalithaa for disposal of the property claim petitions ahead of the main trial.
The Rs 66.65 crore disporportionate assets case against Jayalalithaa dates back to her first term as chief minister of Tamil Nadu between 1991-96. The case was booked in 1997 and investigations were carried under the rule of DMK which deposed Jayalalithaa from power in April 1996. The case was transferred to a Karnataka special court by the Supreme Court in 2003 on a plea by a DMK official K Anbazhagan alleging subversion of the trial by the AIADMK government lead by Jayalalithaa that returned to power in May 2001.