The Supreme Court on Tuesday convicted AIADMK general secretary VK Sasikala in the disproportionate assets case. With this judgment, her bid to become the chief minister of the state was officially put to rest as the conviction sentenced her to four years in jail. The apex court bench, comprising of two judges – Justices P C Ghose and Amitava Roy – directed Sasikala and her two relatives V N Sudhakaran and Elavarasi to surrender forthwith to the trial court in Bengaluru and serve the remaining part of the four-year jail term. The trial court had sentenced Sasikala and her two relatives to four years imprisonment with a fine of Rs 10 crore each.
WATCH VIDEO | 5 Things To Know About Edappadi Palanisamy
“Since the charges framed by the trial court have been restored against all of them they will surrender forthwith before the trial court and serve the remaining part of the sentence,” the bench said.
Upholding the trail court order, the SC set aside the Karnataka High Court judgment which had acquitted Sasikala and former chief minister J Jayalalithaa in the case. The court asked Sasikala to surrender immediately and those convicted will have to serve the remaining part of their sentence.
Here is the full text of Sasikala’s conviction:
“538. After analyzing 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 judgment and order rendered by the High Court is untenable and is thus set aside. We have considered the facts of this case and in our opinion, the percentage of disproportionate assets as 8.12% as computed by the High Court is based on completely wrong reading of the evidence on record compounded by incorrect arithmetical calculations, as referred to herinabove. In view of the regnant evidence on record, unassailably proving the disproportionateness of the assets, as contemplated in Section 13(1)(e) of 1988 Act, it is inessential as well to resort to any arithmetic to compute the percentage thereof. In any view of this matter, the decision of this Court in Krishnanand Agnihotri (supra) has no application in the facts of this case and therefore, the respondents cannot avail any benefit therefrom.
539. Both the Courts have construed all the assets, income and expenditure of all the accused collectively. We see no convincing reason to adopt a different course which even otherwise, having regard to the charge, is not warranted.
Also Watch| 5 Lesser Known Facts About Sasikala Natarajan
540. Noticeably, the respondents accused accepted all the findings of the High Court. We have analyzed the evidence adduced by the parties and we come to the conclusion that A1 to A4 have entered into a conspiracy and in furtherance of the same, A1 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 & companies involved to hold these on her behalf with a masked front. Furthermore, the the charge of abetment laid against A2 to A4 in the commission of the offence by A1 also stands proved.
541. We have noticed that: In State Through Central Bureau of Investigation, New Delhi Vs. Jitender Kumar Singh, reported in (2014) 11 SCC 724, this Court held that once the power has been exercised by the Special Judge under sub-section (3) of Section 4 of the P.C. Act to proceed against non-PC offences alongwith PC offences, the mere fact that the sole public servant dies after the exercise of powers under sub-section (3) of Section 4, will not divest the jurisdiction of the Special Judge or vitiate the proceedings pending before him. Therefore, we hold that as the sole public servant has died being A1 in this matter, in our opinion, though the appeals against her have abated, even then A2 to A4 are liable to be convicted and sentenced in the manner as has been held by
the Trial Judge.
The Trial Court held that even private individuals could be prosecuted for the offence under Section 109 of I.P.C. and we find that the Trial Court was right in coming to the conclusion relying on the decision of Nallammal (supra), wherein it was observed that acquisition and possession by a public servant was capable of being abetted, and observed that Under Section 3 of the 1988 Act, the Special Judge had the power to try offences punishing even abetment or conspiracy of the offences mentioned in the PC Act and in our opinion, the Trial Court correctly held in this matter that private individuals can be prosecuted by the Court on the ground that they have abetted the act of criminal misconduct falling under Section 13(1)
WATCH VIDEO | Panneerselvam Expelled From AIADMK, Edapadi Palanisamy Elected As Legislature Party Leader
(e) of the 1988 Act committed by the public servant. Furthermore, the reasoning given by the Trial Court in respect of criminal conspiracy and abetment, after scrutinizing the evidence of this case, is correct in the face of the overwhelming evidence indicating the circumstances of active abetment and conspiracy by A2 to A4 in the commission of the above offences under Section 13(1)(e) of the 1988 Act. This would be evident from the following circumstances:-
(i) A1 had executed a General Power of Attorney in favour of A2 in respect of Jaya Publications marked as Ex.P-995. The circumstance of executing the power of attorney in favour of A2 indicates that with a view to keep herself secured from legal complications, A1 executed the said power of attorney knowing fully well that under the said powers, A2 would be dealing with her funds credited to her account in Jaya Publications.
(ii) Constitution of various firms during the check period is another circumstance establishing the conspiracy between the parties. It has come in evidence that 10 firms were constituted on a single day. In addition, A2 and A3 started independent concerns and apart from buying properties, no other business activity was undertaken by them. The circumstances proved in evidence undoubtedly establish that these firms are nothing but extentions of Namadhu MGR and Jaya Publications and they owed their existence to the benevolence of A1 and A2.
(iii) The aforesaid firms and companies were operating from the residence of A1 and it cannot be accepted that she was unaware of the same even though she feigned ignorance about the activities carried on by A2 to A4. They were residing with A1 without any blood relation between them.
(iv) Although A2 to A4 claims to have independent sources of income but the fact of constitution of firms and acquisition of large tracts of land out of the funds provided by A1 indicate that, all the accused congregated in the house of A1 neither for social living nor A1 allowed them free accommodation out of humanitarian concern, rather the facts and circumstances proved in evidence undoubtedly point out that A2 to A4 were accommodated in the house of A1 pursuant to the criminal conspiracy hatched by them to hold the assets of A1.
(v) Ex.D.61 reveals that before the Income Tax Authorities, the representative of A1 himself had put forth an argument that Rs.1 crore was advanced by A1 to Sasi Enterprises towards share capital and further it was submitted that on the security of the said amount, loan was borrowed by A1, and thus she cannot claim noninvolvement with the firms.
(vi) The flow of money from one account to the other proves that there existed active conspiracy to launder the illgotten wealth of A1 for purchasing properties in the names of the firms.
(vii) The conspiracy among the accused persons is also proved by the evidence of Sub-Registrar, North Beach, Sub-Registrar office-PW.159 and the evidence of PW.71 Radha Krishnan, Horticultural officer.
In our opinion, the Trial Court correctly came to the conclusion on such reasoning and we hereby uphold the same.
542. Accordingly, in view of the reasoning recorded hereinabove in the preceding paragraphs, we set aside the judgment and order of the High Court and affirm and restore the judgment of the Trial Court in toto against A2 to A4.
However, though in the process of scrutiny of the facts and the law involved and the inextricable nexus of A1 with A2 to A4, reference to her role as well as the evidence pertaining to her had been made, she having expired meanwhile, the appeals, so far as those relate to her stand abated. Nevertheless, to reiterate, having regard to the fact that the charge framed against A2 to A4 is proved, the conviction and sentence recorded against them by the Trial Court is restored in full including the consequential directions.
543. Respondents A2 to A4, in view of this determination and the restoration of their conviction and sentence, would surrender before the Trial Court forthwith. The Trial Court is hereby also ordered to take immediate steps to ensure that the respondents A2 to A4 serve out the remainder of sentence awarded them and take further steps in compliance of this judgment, in accordance with law.”
Amitava Roy, J.
A few disquieting thoughts that have lingered and languished in distressed silence in mentation demand expression at the parting with a pulpit touch. Hence, this supplement.
2. The attendant facts and circumstances encountered as above, demonstrate a deep rooted conspiratorial design to amass vast assets without any compunction and hold the same through shell entities to cover up the sinister trail of such illicit acquisitions and deceive and delude the process of law. Novelty in the outrages and the magnitude of the nefarious gains as demonstrated by the revelations in the case are, to say the least, startling.
3. A growing impression in contemporary existence seems to acknowledge, the all pervading pestilent presence of corruption almost in every walk of life, as if to rest reconciled to the octopoid stranglehold of this malaise with helpless awe. The common day experiences indeed do introduce one with unfailing regularity, the variegated cancerous concoctions of corruption with fearless impunity gnawing into the frame and fabric of the nation’s essentia. Emboldened by the lucrative yields of such malignant materialism, the perpetrators of this malady have tightened their noose on the societal psyche. Individual and collective pursuits with curative interventions at all levels are thus indispensable to deliver the civil order from the asphyxiating snare of this escalating venality.
4. In the above alarming backdrop of coeval actuality, judicial adjudication of a charge based on an anti-corruption law motivated by the impelling necessities of time, has to be informed with the desired responsibility and the legislative vision therefor. Any interpretation of the provisions of such law has to be essentially purposive, in furtherance of its mission and not in retrogression thereof. Innovative nuances of evidential inadequacies, processual infirmities and interpretational subtleties, artfully advanced in defence, otherwise intangible and inconsequential, ought to be conscientiously cast aside with moral maturity and singular sensitivity to uphold the statutory sanctity, lest the coveted cause of justice is a causality.
5. Corruption is a vice of insatiable avarice for selfaggrandizement by the unscrupulous, taking unfair advantage of their power and authority and those in public office also, in breach of the institutional norms, mostly backed by minatory loyalists. Both the corrupt and the corrupter are indictable and
answerable to the society and the country as a whole. This is more particularly in re the peoples’ representatives in public life committed by the oath of the office to dedicate oneself to the unqualified welfare of the laity, by faithfully and conscientiously discharging their duties attached thereto in accordance with the Constitution, free from fear or favour or affection or ill-will. A self-serving conduct in defiance of such solemn undertaking in infringement of the community’s confidence reposed in them is therefore a betrayal of the promise of allegiance to the Constitution and a condemnable sacrilege. Not only such a character is an anathema to the preambulor promise of justice, liberty, equality, fraternal dignity, unity and integrity of the country, which expectantly ought to animate the life and spirit of every citizen of this country, but also is an unpardonable onslaught on the constitutional religion that forms the bedrock of our democratic polity.
6. This pernicious menace stemming from moral debasement of the culpables, apart from destroying the sinews of the nation’s structural and moral set-up, forges an unfair advantage of the dishonest over the principled, widening as well the divide between the haves and have nots. Not only this has a demoralising bearing on those who are ethical, honest, upright and enterprising, it is visibly antithetical to the quintessential spirit of the fundamental duty of every citizen to strive towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity to raise the nation to higher levels of endeavour and achievement. This virulent affliction triggers an imbalance in the society’s existential stratas and stalls constructive progress in the overall well-being of the nation, besides disrupting its dynamics of fiscal governance. It encourages defiance of the rule of law and the propensities for easy materialistic harvests, whereby the society’s soul stands defiled, devalued and denigrated.
7. Such is the militant dominance of this sprawling evil, that majority of the sensible, rational and discreet constituents of the society imbued with moral values and groomed with disciplinal ethos find themselves in minority, besides estranged and resigned by practical compulsions and are left dejected and disillusioned. A collective, committed and courageous turnaround is thus the present day imperative to free the civil order from the suffocative throttle of this deadly affliction.
8. Every citizen has to be a partner in this sacrosanct mission, if we aspire for a stable, just and ideal social order as envisioned by our forefathers and fondly cherished by the numerous self-effacing crusaders of a free and independent Bharat, pledging their countless sacrifices and selfless commitments for such cause.”