Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa was convicted by a special court in Bangalore here on Saturday after being found guilty in a Rs 66.65 crore disproportionate assets case. Special judge John Michael Cunha pronounced the judgment running over 1000 pages in the 18-year-old case and said the prosecution had proven its case.
With the court subsequently sentencing Jayalalithaa to four years imprisonment, she will be immediately moved to jail. The conviction will also require Jayalalithaa to step down from her position as chief minister of Tamil Nadu.
The judgement on Saturday was delivered as thousands of AIADMK supporters gathered around the venue of the court hall. Almost the entire Tamil Nadu ministry 29 ministers were present outside the court hall along with AIADMK MPs and leaders. The Karnataka police deployed 40 platoons of policemen to maintain law and order.
In brief arguments ahead of the judgment Jayalalitha told the special court that the case was politically motivated. She told the court that the case was filed 18 years ago when she was 48-years-old with the intent of harassing her. The prosecution however argued that Jayalalitha and three others had committed offences against society.
The Rs 66.65 crore corruption case against Jayalalitha pertains to her first tenure as chief minister between 1991-96. The case was filed by a DMK official K Anbazhagan in 1997.
The Tamil Nadu Directorate of Vigilance had seized several kg of gold, silver and jewellery following raids on property owned by the Tamil Nadu chief minister.
The case was transferred to Bangalore in 2003 by the Supreme Court after allegations were raised by the DMK about the Jayalalithaa government meddling with the case during her second tenure from 2001 – 2006.
The trial in the case has been plagued by delays. It picked up speed over the last year since John Michael Cunha was appointed as the special judge.
The judge has refused to entertain delaying tactics in the case and has pushed on with the trial after frequently pulling up the defence and even the prosecution for employing delaying tactics.