SC rejects Sasikala’s plea seeking review of her conviction in DA case

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VK-SasikalaIn a huge setback to the AIADMK general secretary VK Sasikala, the Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed her plea to review the February 14 verdict, sentencing her to undergo four years of imprisonment in the Rs 66 crore disproportionate assets (DA) case involving former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa.

A Bench of Justices SA Bobde and Amitav Roy also rejected the review petitions of VN Sudhakaran and Ilavarasi, who were sentenced to undergo four-year imprisonment in this case for abetment and acting as benami of Jayalalithaa. All the three are suffering sentence in Bengaluru jail.

The Bench, in a brief order passed in the chamber, said, “We have perused the review petitions and written submissions and propositions handed over to us by senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi for the petitioners. We do not find any error in the common judgment dated February 14, 2017, much less an apparent error on the face of the record so as to call for its review. Review petitions are accordingly dismissed. Application for hearing the review petitions in open court is rejected”.

On February 14, a Bench of Justices Pinaki Chandra Ghose and Amitav Roy had convicted them by reversing the Karnataka High Court judgment acquitting them in the DA case. As Jayalalithaa had died on December 5, 2016, the Bench said the appeal insofar she is concerned has come to an end.

Initially, the review petitions were listed before Justices Amitav Roy and Rohinton Nariman, who recused from the case as his father Fali Nariman had appeared for Ms. Jayalalithaa in the bail matter.

Seeking review of this verdict, Sasikala and two others said as they are not government servants, the provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act would not apply to them and that they had been wrongly convicted even after the death of the public servant Jayalalithaa who was the A1 in this case. They argued that once the main accused had expired the charges against them would not survive independently.

They had not amassed wealth as held in the judgment as they were independent income tax assesses and had paid income tax during the relevant period, the petitioners claimed. They wanted the court to have a re-look at the verdict after a fresh hearing in open court and to set them at liberty.

The apex court had held that Sasikala and others had hatched one criminal conspiracy after the other at Poes Garden to launder the ill-gotten wealth of Jayalalithaa for purchasing huge properties in the names of “masked fronts.” It had said that Jayalalithaa did not accommodate Sasikala at Poes Garden out of some “philanthropic urge” but with cold-blooded calculation to keep herself secure from any legal complications, which may arise from their criminal activities.

Coming down heavily on Sasikala and two others, the Bench said the fact that A2 to A4 did combine to constitute the firms to acquire huge tracts of land out of the funds provided by Jayalalithaa was also a clear index that their assemblage in the house of Jayalalithaa was not engendered by any philanthropic urge for friends. They were residing with A1 without any blood relation between them to frame and further the criminal conspiracy to hold the assets of Jayalalithaa.

Referring to the plea of Sasikala and two others that they had independent income, the bench said the fact that A2 to A4 did combine to constitute the firms to acquire huge tracts of land out of the funds provided by Jayalalithaa also was a clear index that their assemblage in the Poes Garden house of Jayalalithaa was not engendered by any philanthropic urge for friends and their relations in need, rather to frame and further the criminal conspiracy to hold the assets of A1.